Homecoming Court honors student leaders

Giana Froio
Staff Writer

The University community celebrated the annual Homecoming Illuminations ceremony Monday night in the Abraham Campus Center Ballroom.

The ceremony is the official introduction to the 2023 Homecoming court, affectionately referred to as the Court of Leos this year. 

The gender-inclusive court is a group of five senior students nominated by campus organizations for their impact and contribution to the La Verne community. 

After a school-wide vote, the court members are: Isela Chavez, legal studies and French major; Justin Parks, sociology major; Manny Forde, rhetoric and communications studies major; Mia Valdez, educational studies major; and Samantha Miller, psychology and theater major. 

Two of these court members will be named Leo Royalty during Saturday’s Homecoming events. 

Along the south wall of the ballroom were five easels draped with black fabric. As each member of the court was named, the corresponding canvas was unveiled revealing a photo and short biography of each candidate.

As the ceremony began Monday, the Court members entered the ballroom from the south door. Each member processed down a red carpet lined with red roses and tea lights.

Announcers talked about the accomplishments of each member till they reached the end of the carpet and took their places in front of the stage.

“I am very grateful to be in this position,” Chavez said. 

Chavez was nominated by the Associated Students of University of La Verne. She joined ASULV as a freshman ambassador and has held leadership positions in the organization since. She is currently ASULV president. Among her achievements through ASULV is the installment of free menstrual products in University bathrooms. 

Chavez’s campus involvement does not stop there. She has also been a member of Order of Omega, Iota Delta and the interfaith fellow program. After graduation, Chavez hopes to work as a paralegal for a few years before going to law school.

“Homecoming is a great way to celebrate the year and culture of La Verne,” said Forde, who, in addition to his rhetoric communications studies major, is minoring in political science. 

Forde was nominated by Kings’ Ascension, a club created to address the physical, intellectual and psychological struggles of Black men. Forde has been president since last year and was part of the club’s rebranding. He is also a member of the speech and debate team, vice president of the Black Student Union, and risk management and scholarship chair of Phi Delta Theta. 

Forde is not sure what his plans are post graduation, but he has worked internships with talent agencies managing actors, and he said he may attend graduate school. For now, he is taking it easy and enjoying his last year at the University, he said.

“Me being here shows that your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed,” said court member Valdez.

Valdez was nominated to the Court of by the Campus Activities Board. She is currently the co-chair of CAB. As co-chair, Valdez is in charge of events including Welcome Week and Lavernapalooza, as well as Homecoming week events.

She is also the treasurer of her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, vice president of scholarships with the College Panhellenic Association and an orientation week leader. 

Valdez plans to continue her education by getting her master’s degree in educational studies and finishing her teaching credential. She hopes to have her own elementary or middle school classroom within the next five years. Her ultimate goal is to become a school superintendent. 

“I’ve become a leader,” said court member Samantha Miller. 

Miller was nominated by her sorority, Iota Delta. She is the president of Order of Omega and has led an undergraduate research lab since fall 2021. Miller intends to get her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. She has applied to programs at USC, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Fullerton. She hopes to have finished her master’s and clinical hours within the next five years. Her ultimate goal is to open her own private practice. 

“I don’t think I’ll have any regrets when I graduate,” Miller said. 

“I’ve learned how to have confidence in myself,” said court member Justin Parks.

Parks was nominated by his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, where he is the recruitment chairman. His job is to recruit new members to the fraternity through rush events and positive interactions on campus. He also makes sure that the bonds of the members remain strong as the brotherhood chairman.

After graduation, Parks plans to take a gap year before returning to his education for graduate school where he will study public relations. He wants to pursue a career in digital marketing.

Parks leaves this advice to students at the University: “You’re only going to get as much out of this school as you put into it, so get involved as much as possible while you still can.”

Illuminations was the second Homecoming event after Futbol and Flavors, held Monday morning in Sneaky Park. There they had soccer themed activities, food and free dance lessons. 

Two court members will be named Leo Royalty Saturday at the street fair and student float parade on the steps of Founders Hall. 

Giana Froio can be reached at giana.froio@gmail.com.

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