The Student Government Association voted to change the Homecoming election process by implementing a junior maid court in addition to the senior queen court to allow more women to be represented.
At a Troy volleyball game on Wednesday, Oct. 5, the five queen candidates and three maid candidates were announced.
The maid court includes Meredith Durden, Amy Russo and Sierra Clark. The queen court includes Broghan Freeland, Callie Bennett, Destiny Oliver, Jordyn Elston and Symone Shaw.
SGA President Olivia Melton explained the changes in the court from previous years.
Originally, any student organization could put up any woman for homecoming court. The top-five court would be elected by a popular vote. To determine who would be queen, candidates would interview.
Now, all women, including the maid and queen courts, go through an interview process after they are nominated. A woman eligible for maid court must have completed between 60 and 89 credit hours, and a woman eligible for queen court must have completed 90 credit hours or more.
The nominees go through an interview process that selects the top 10. The top 10 go through a popular vote and another interview, which determines top five. The woman with the top points from interview and votes from the election is crowned queen.
A key difference from previous years is that an interview process has been added prior to the popular vote for the queens. Maid court participates in an interview process that determines the top five maids, and then the popular vote selects the top three maids, which is a similar process to previous years.
“SGA voted to pass this because we looked at other universities and how they did their courts and modeled it after other schools,” Melton said. “The reason for senior court is so a senior would win queen and secondly, more people like it because more women are recognized.”
The top three maids shared their platforms with the Tropolitan and what Homecoming means to them.
Meredith Durden, a risk management insurance major from Montgomery, was nominated by Alpha Gamma Delta and is supporting Student Success.
Durden said she chose the organization “to raise awareness of the importance of education throughout our community.”
Durden said that Troy has provided her with many opportunities, and it has become a home to her. For Durden, Homecoming is a chance to join together and celebrate Trojan Pride.
“It is a chance to celebrate Troy and give back,” Durden said.
Amy Russo, a junior broadcast journalism major from Pace, Florida, was nominated by the University Activities Council and is supporting the Epilepsy Foundation. According to the foundation’s website, epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, affects the nervous system.
“About a month ago, my dad got diagnosed with epilepsy after having a seizure at work that left him in the hospital for two weeks, so it’s really close to my heart,” Russo said. “The organization is a community based, family organization that’s dedicated to helping people who have been impacted by seizures and dedicated to finding a cure.”
She wants to represent her father well while on the court as well as show everyone what it is like when proper precautions are not taken with those who have epilepsy.
Sierra Clark, a junior exercise science major from Vestavia Hills, was nominated by the Troy Student Government Association and is supporting Compassion International. Clark explained that the organization held a close place in her heart because she has been sponsoring a little girl for about two years.
“I chose to sponsor a child in Haiti, Sanikha Charlotin. She is about to be 9, and I started sponsoring her when she had just turned 6,” Clark said. “I write letters to her, we have a relationship, and as her sponsor, I pay $38 a month that provides her clothing, education, medical supplies, and the opportunity to go to a school that teaches about Jesus.”
Clark said that Homecoming is special because it brings several different types of people from campus together.
“We all come together and celebrate that we love Troy and that we love going here,” Clark said. “International students, Greek students, non-Greek students all come together and enjoy the events and celebrate where they are right now as a young adult.”
The top five senior queen candidates shared their platforms with the Tropolitan and what this experience has been like so far.
Broghan Freeland, a senior health and human services major from Prattville, was nominated by the Panhellenic Council and is supporting “Every Child Deserves a Home,” an organization she started.
“Every Child Deserves a Home” helps bring awareness to adoption in the United States.
“One of the little girls I baby-sit from back home is like a sister to me, and was adopted eight years ago by a couple that are like second parents to me,” Freeland said. “Without adoption, I wouldn’t have my proudest joy and the little sister I never had. It’s really important to me because I believe that every child does deserve a home and the opportunity that Emma got to have.”
Freeland said that is such an honor and a humbling experience to be nominated for queen court by women that she respects so much.
“Troy has become my second home and my favorite place on earth,” Freeland said. “I think this is such a cool way to continue to serve my university and all the students that are here. It’s a way to be an example and a role model.”
Callie Bennett, a senior biomedical sciences major from Geneva, was nominated by the Mortarboard Honor Society and is supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“A lot of people I know and love are affected by it (diabetes) so I just think it’s a really good cause, and that it’s something that Troy University and the Troy community needs to know more about,” Bennett said.
Bennett said that Troy is her home away from home, and that it is her second family.
“I love how it (Troy) represents so much diversity, and coming here and being a student here for four years has made me such a well-rounded person,” Bennett said. “It would be such an honor to represent such a great school.”
Destiny Oliver, a senior global business marketing major from Dothan, was nominated by Phi Mu and is supporting the Boys and Girls Club of Pike County and Surrounding areas.
For Oliver, the organization has a personal connection because she said as a child, she spent time learning and playing at the club in her hometown.
“I’m a product of the Boys and Girls Club of the Wiregrass,” Oliver said. “I spent a great deal of my childhood learning and playing at the club in Dothan, Alabama.”
Oliver said she sees the club’s motto — “Bright Futures, Start Here” — in action.
“As a volunteer I see it firsthand as I assist students with homework and listen to their hopes and dreams,” she said. “It’s truly a special place.”
Oliver said that Homecoming is a way for everyone to join together as one Trojan family.
“Regardless of where you’re from, your religious views, your major, or what organizations you’re in, we are all Trojans,” Oliver said. “This amazing university is what brings us together, and I believe that’s what makes us Trojans one and all.”
Jordyn Elston, a senior broadcast journalism major from Birmingham, was nominated by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and is supporting “Happily Ever After,” a reading program she founded at Troy Elementary.
After working with the Pike County Boys and Girls Club, Elston said she saw a need for providing academic help to students.
“I realized how many Troy residents were living below the poverty line and that those parents didn’t have time to come home from work every day and work with their students making sure they had the academic help that they needed,” Elston said.
Elston said she is thankful for Troy because it has made her into the woman she is today and said she is leaving her mark on Troy.
“Through volunteering and being a part of so many different organizations, I feel like I have been able to leave my mark, and that is so special to me,” Elston said. “I sometimes say I bleed cardinal and sweet tea, so this is just my home away from home.”
Symone Shaw, a senior hospitality, sport and tourism major from Homewood, was nominated by FarmHouse Fraternity and is supporting Suicide Awareness Voice of Education, an organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide through educating communities, raising public awareness, and providing every person with the right tools needed to help save the lives of those affected by depression and suicide.
“I chose this platform because my family has personally been affected by suicide and depression, and I feel as if there is not enough information publicized about this serious issue,” Shaw said.
Shaw said she is honored to represent Troy because she represents the student athletes at Troy, the Greek system, as well as minorities. She is excited to see the changes that Troy will go through in the future.