Big City Storrs, Big City Homecoming

 A contestant in the Homecoming Royalty Pageant performs his talent with the goal of earning the title of Homecoming King. (Eric Wang, Staff Photographer/The Daily Campus)

A contestant in the Homecoming Royalty Pageant performs his talent with the goal of earning the title of Homecoming King. (Eric Wang, Staff Photographer/The Daily Campus)

Crowds flooded the Student Union Theater to see who would be crowned Homecoming King and Queen this year, as well as which city team could best transform the university’s alma mater to best suit this year’s homecoming theme: Big City Storrs.

The Royalty Pageant and Alma Mater Sing event Tuesday night was just one of the many homecoming events hosted by SUBOG this week, including the popular Lip Synch event at Gampel Pavilion Thursday night, a tailgate on Fairfield Way Friday afternoon and the big game on Saturday at noon.

The court dressed in costumes related to his or her organization, performed a routine for the crowd and answered a question about a campus issue while wearing evening wear.

In between the pageant segments, homecoming teams comprised of multiple groups on campus were challenged with performing UConn’s alma mater in a creative rendition. Before performing last night, groups had a closed audition in front of a panel of judges, and the Nashville, San Francisco and Beverly Hills city teams were the three to advance to last night’s competition.

The costumes worn by the participants showed spirit in relation to his or her organization, current homecoming theme or personal involvement within the UConn community. Contestants combined traditional cultural garb, such as an Indian dhoti or South Asia Kurta, as well as showcased their representative cities and interests, such as a plastic bag costume to raise awareness about reducing waste or a red dress for the Golden Gate Bridge.

The talent portion of night showcased a variety of creative acts by the contestants. Jayson Gilbert, a chemical engineering major representing team San Francisco with Sigma Phi Epsilon, performed his first single, “Worst Way.” Other contestants performed songs with gymnastics, sang and performed traditional dances.

Qimei, or May, Liu, representing the Asian American Cultural Center (AsACC), performed a moving rap and poem piece with a video backdrop made with friends to shed light on how all gender identities and sexual orientations should be accepted and embraced. Her performance brought the whole theater to their feet at the conclusion.

Mahika Jhangiani, a political science major representing AsACC, performed a fusion of dances to showcase a variety of unique dance styles that originated in India, which she hones as a member of Husky Bhangra.

“My favorite part of the night was seeing the talent portion and all of the variety of talents UConn students have to offer,” Lisette Donewald, first-semester student said about the first UConn Homecoming event she has attended.

The question session featured the contestants decked out in their finest attire, answering questions concerning what makes a UConn student a husky, who is their hero and why they chose UConn.

Ama Appiah, a molecular and cell biology major representing Gamma Phi Beta, said that if she could name a building on campus, she would name one after UConn President Susan Herbst, the university’s first female president.

“I really liked that there was so much diversity and representation in our homecoming court,” Shreya Sreenivas, first-semester physiology and neurobiology and computer science double major, said. “Everybody had brought an aspect of their culture, identity and passion and it was a really amazing experience to watch.”

The results of the night were highly anticipated. Liu and Jhangiani were crowned Homecoming King and Queen, respectively. Gilbert finished as first runner-up. Shariel Rodriguez-Echevarria, representing PRLACC and its theme San Juan, finished second runner-up. Ryan Padden, a biomedical engineering and computer science major, finished third runner-up. Vishvak Vadivel, a biomedical engineering major representing the Phi Delta Theta fraternity was fourth runner-up.

For the queen contestants, Valeria Popolizio, a political science and human rights double major representing PRLACC, took first runner-up. Appiah finished second-runner up. Kate Burns, an English major representing Alpha Phi and team Beverly Hills, finished third runner-up. Cydney-Alexis De La Rosa, a third-semester biomedical engineering major and representing the African American Cultural Center, finished fourth runner-up.

For the Alma Mater Sing contest, San Francisco, of Gamma Phi and Sigma Phi Epsilon, was crowned the winner. They performed a stunning rendition of the UConn’s alma mater, complete with pitchperfect harmonization, snapping and beatboxing. The Beverly Hills team, of Alpha Phi and Sigma Alpha Mu, took second. the Nashville team, of Pi Phi and Alpha Kappa Lambda, finished third.


Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hollianne.lao@uconn.edu.