“And your 2018 Homecoming Royalty winners are…Haley Potter and Leroy Cooper,” a moment I will never forget and a phrase that will stick in my head forever, giving me chills each time I watch the video. Immediately looking into the crowd at my mom and crying because of how special this moment truly was would be the cherry on top of becoming Slippery Rock Homecoming Royalty. Though, besides the crown, sash and title, what does it really mean to be homecoming royalty?

For me it was something that I had dreamed of all through college and even before. At the beginning of freshman year, I made a bucket list of things I wanted to do during my time at The Rock and running for homecoming court was one of them. I was proud of myself for running for court, over-the-top excited to make it onto court and completely speechless when I won. Running on behalf of WSRU-TV and getting to represent our TV station and what we do for an entire year has been rewarding because it is the organization that has shaped me into who I am the most at college. Representing Slippery Rock University for an entire year also meant the world to me because anyone who knows me knows I love my school and the people here; I practically bleed green and white.  

I do not see homecoming as just a popularity contest, but instead an indication that you made a mark on your school and a positive impression on people. It was reassuring in a sense. I have always cared a lot about my reputation and I have been involved in various organizations since the beginning of freshman year, including WSRU-TV News, The Rocket and Project to End Human Trafficking.

I always tried to be a role model to younger students and to my peers. I try to walk with a pep in my step and work really hard to be the best I can be. I put extra effort into being a good friend and a person who is there for anyone who needs me, whether it’s for help on a project or just someone to listen to them. I also always strive to be a positive and happy person, someone that people want to be around and a leader.

I think that winning Homecoming royalty confirmed for me that I did make an impression on people. I was a good friend and a well liked person that people could open up to. It proved to me that my peers appreciated the person I am. It showed that my dedication to others paid off and that is all I could have ever wanted.  

After winning, I continued to be the same person I was before, but instead I had more of a platform to go off. I have always been at least somewhat well-known on campus because of how active I am in WSRU-TV, but the fact that people then started coming up to me acknowledging me as homecoming royalty gave me more attention and more of a chance to be the role model that I always aimed to be. When I first won, I had several girls approach me and tell me that they admire my confidence and who I am. Many of them said they would never be comfortable campaigning and putting themselves out there like I did. I took that as a compliment because I am a firm believer that everyone should feel comfortable and confident with the person they are. Being homecoming royalty means that I had a year to try to prove that to people. It also was always something to come back to. During tough times, I knew I still needed to be a strong and positive representation of this amazing school.  

Being royalty has given me the opportunity to meet some incredible people, including peers who approach me because they know me as “the homecoming queen” and also many students, especially freshmen, who have come to me for advice or just to talk about life. Those are the types of things that make being homecoming royalty so rewarding. That for me is what being homecoming royalty means. My biggest goal as queen was to be “that person” for anyone that needed it and I feel that I did that for as many people as I could.

Lastly, I am so lucky to have won royalty with Leroy because we have become such good friends over the past year. I do not think the university could have elected a kinder, more genuine king with a bigger heart to represent this school. Being royalty together has allowed us to represent the school positively and enjoy every second in the process. 

I have tears writing this, knowing that in no time at all I will be passing along the crown to someone else, but I will end with some advice. College is short, so live it up. If you want to run for homecoming court or maybe even some other organization, position or team, do it. Be yourself. I would not have won homecoming queen if I wasn’t myself and my full self. I sang in the singing bee even though I am the worst singer, I dance around like a fool and talk too much sometimes, I dress up over the top for spirit events and holidays, but that is me. Life is too short to be anything other than yourself. Also, I am a firm believer that you never know unless you try. Like my last example, I never would have won if I did not put myself out there and try.

Also, believe in yourself.  It is easy to get down on yourself in college and I have been there too. Stress builds, things change, events happen, but you still have to be there for yourself and you can’t give up, no matter what. If that is the most important and the last thing I get out there as homecoming royalty, I will take it. You can do anything you put your mind to and if you don’t succeed, you have an entire life ahead of you to succeed in other things.

As your 2018 Homecoming Royalty, I am signing off, but I wish the best of luck to the new royalty members and to anyone else who needed to hear how confidence is key and how important it is to be yourself.

To the 2019 Homecoming Royalty, good luck and have fun. I promise you from experience that it will be one of the quickest yet most rewarding years of your life. Now that you know what being homecoming royalty meant to me, I hope that you can take that and make your own memories and mark on this school.  

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Haley is a senior converged journalism major, and this is her fourth year contributing to the news section of The Rocket. This is her second year as a senior Rocket contributor and she focuses on campus and community news. Haley also contributes to the multimedia section of The Rocket, which goes hand-in-hand with her role as President of WSRU-TV News. After graduation, Haley hopes to continue her passion for reporting and become a broadcast news reporter or Multimedia Journalist at a local news station. Aside from The Rocket and WSRU-TV News, Haley is also a member of the Alpha Epsilon-Rho honor society, National Broadcasting Society, Lambda Pi Eta, and SRU's Project to End Human Trafficking.


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