New faces on this year's Homecoming Court are breaking with tradition.
While Homecoming Court is typically dominated by the same organizations, this year’s group of 15 includes five first-time representatives.
The court still includes the typical organizations like Tri Delta, the G.E.R.M.A.N. Club, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Kappa Delta and others. But this year represents a significant change for the court.
Meet the candidates representing these first-time organizations.
Alpha Phi Omega (Kabemba Kapanga):
Kapanga didn’t even want to cross the Drillfield for her first Homecoming at Tech. Now, she’s representing APO, a service fraternity with more than 120 members.
Her lack of interest in Homecoming and other Tech traditions changed when she became a member of APO.
“The thing I’m most proud of for APO is how much service and selflessness there is,” she said. “In the past two years, everyone has done over 18,000 (hours) of community service.”
APO has tried to get members on Homecoming Court previously with no avail, so Kapanga is excited to be the organization’s first representative.
“Being on Homecoming Court is mind-blowing. When I was a freshman, I wasn’t even sure what it was,” Kapanga said. “I’m just really excited to be able to have a new set of students be able to be represented.”
Black Student Alliance (Jenae Green)
Green got involved in BSA through a shadow program and quickly worked her way up to the executive board, where she currently serves as the assistant director for marketing.
“I got to volunteer at their shows and see the behind-the-scenes of how they work,” Green said.
BSA is known for its “edutainment” programs — bringing speakers, shows and other events to Tech that help highlight Black culture — and Green is heavily involved in that process.
“Our goal is to make BSA (visible) to the entire community,” she said. “We just want to bring events that you all are interested in and my job is to market that so we can have the best turnout.”
Now, she has the opportunity to continue to market herself as a member of the court.
“Whenever you’re on Homecoming Court, your job is to be an ambassador for the university,” she said. “Ever since I came in freshman year, this is something that I knew I wanted to do.”
Hokie Ambassadors (Diego Utrera)
Utrera has been an ambassador for the university for three years, giving campus tours and advocating for Tech to prospective students and their parents.
Now, he has the opportunity to be an ambassador for not just the university, but for his organization as a whole and himself.
“The opportunity presented itself, so I just went for it,” he said. “I’m really just trying to make the most out of my experience here — I never try to do things halfway.”
For Utrera, getting the most out of his experience means interacting with others. The same reason that gets him excited about engaging with prospective students is what’s fueling him for his opportunity on Homecoming Court.
“The thing I’m most excited about is getting in touch and interacting with everyone in our student community — not just my major or the organizations I’m involved in,” he said.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance (Zack Fry)
Fry came out when he was in eighth grade, and while he received support from family and friends, something was missing.
“I had a lot of support but there was no actual organization to be a part of,” he said. “So when I came to Tech, I made a point to seek it out.”
Fry found that community through the LGBTA, and has been involved since his freshman year.
He came up with the idea to run for Homecoming Court as somewhat of a joke, but when he received support from the club’s executive board, he decided to go for it.
However, Fry feels that the candidacy is less about himself, or even the LGBTA community, but about the entire Hokie community.
“I want not only current Hokies to understand, but also future Hokies, that it doesn’t matter who you are, who you love or how you identify, but as long as you have the Hokie spirit you will be welcome in this community,” he said.