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Homecoming court shows off state and school spirit at pageant

Angel Ulloa
This year’s 2016 Student Government Association’s Texas themed Homecoming Pageant took place at Magoffin Auditorium on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Twenty-eight contestants competed for a spot in this year’s homecoming court, each displaying their school pride in unique ways. The wide array of contestants were brought together to show off their Miner pride by singing, dancing and much more.

The Student Government Association’s Homecoming Pageant followed traditional pageant roles by including a formal wear showcase and a round of questions. Organizations from around campus cheered on their fellow classmates and organization members.

With this year’s homecoming theme being Texas, the contestants included country music and two-stepping in their acts. From beautiful ball gowns to Tahitian dancing, this year’s homecoming pageant had a lot to offer.

Hector Soltero, SGA executive assistant and coordinator of the pageant, said he thinks events like this one can be beneficial for students.

“The pageant is a good way for students to see different types of involvement on campus,” Soltero said. “This event is a good display of our peers who are motivated to be involved and show their school spirit.”

Many students used country music to comply with the Texas theme–some contestants sang country songs, others danced. One group used their dancing skills to imitate a cowboy and horse. Contrary to the theme, one pair acted out a scene as the rapper Drake and another student sang his own music, a ballad about Miner pride. Although SGA did not choose the theme, Soltero said he believed it was suitable for the event.

“Homecoming is a big deal in Texas,” Soltero said. “It was a great choice for the week and a way to incorporate a little bit of Texas pride into our UTEP Pride.”

The sub-theme of the pageant was Beyoncé, and many acts paid tribute to the singer. The homecoming pageant also featured dancing from the UTEP Gold Diggers and the Allegro Dance Team. Power 102 radio host and disc jockey Monica Castillo hosted the event. Among the judges were Stephanie Rivas, winner of the 2015 Miss El Paso competition, motivational speaker Laura Price and Jackie Garcia, CEO of Bazaar Models.

Ryan Saenz, junior biology major, said he went to the pageant expecting to see a lot of competition among the contestants.

“The participants needed to put in something really creative to make them stand out,” Saenz said. “I really like the contestant who cut his own music because it was really unique and cool.”

Samantha Owen, senior biology major, said the pageant was really enjoyable.

“I liked it because I really enjoy seeing the contestants and getting to know them better and knowing who they are,” Owen said. “It helped me choose who I liked the best.”

Owen said she had a difficult time choosing which contestant was her favorite.

“Choosing my favorite was hard because they were all really good,” Owen said. “But I’d have to choose the girl who danced the Tahitian dance.”

At the end, the panel of judges choose six contestants to make up this year’s court.

Edward Morales and Kawehiokalani Netani were voted duke and duchess, while Mario Amal-Reveles and Emma Weatherly were chosen as prince and princess.

Manny Lopez and Sydney Wharton were crowned 2015’s Homecoming king and queen.

Manny Lopez, senior political science major and University Democrats member, displayed both his UTEP spirit and Texas pride with a country dance. He danced to songs like “Country Girl” by Luke Bryan and “Take Your Time” by Sam Hunt. Lopez said winning the crown has been an amazing experience for him.

“Words can’t describe how wonderful it is,” Lopez said.

Lopez said being crowned king will help him to accomplish his career goals by helping him practice being on stage and gaining the confidence he needs for public speaking.

“It can help me become comfortable being in front of all of these people and putting myself out there,” Lopez said. “I want to be an attorney, and I’ll have to get up in front people for a case then.”

Sydney Wharton, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major, represented her organizations, Pre-Pharmacy Organization and National Leadership Society, at the pageant. Her routine included singing her own UTEP-themed version of “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown Band, while a group of her friends danced along with her dressed as cows.

“This has been an awesome opportunity,” Wharton said. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people and can really show my pride in school.”

Wharton said being voted homecoming queen feels great.

“I’m really thankful for my friends for being so great and for participating so much,” Wharton said. “I’m just really happy.”

The Homecoming Pageant kicked off Homecoming week. The week will feature other events for students, all leading up to the homecoming game.

“We always want to encourage students to be involved,” Soltero said. “We hope that this is a good kick off to the other events happening throughout the week and that there is a good turn out on Saturday for the game.”

“If any students are interested in getting involved in something like the Homecoming Pageant, we will be hosting the talent show in the spring as well,” Soltero said.

“If any students are interested in getting involved in something like the Homecoming Pageant, we will be hosting the talent show in the spring as well,” Soltero said.

For more information about other homecoming events, call 747-5584 or visit SGA’s Facebook page.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected].

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Homecoming court shows off state and school spirit at pageant