Homecoming candidates

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Tom Brandt

When Tom Brandt looks back on his time at MU, one word comes to mind: toga.

"Toga 2008 was an awesome time," Brandt said. "It was at our double secret location, that also happens to be the best lake ever made by man."

Apart from throwing toga parties, Brandt's fraternity Delta Upsilon also nominated him to be part of this year's homecoming court.

"I was nominated by my fraternity of outstanding men who are all royalty in my book," Brandt said.

Brandt, an advertising major from Kansas City, Kan., enjoys tailgating during homecoming week and proudly remembers winning house decorations his sophomore year. After three homecoming celebrations, Brandt said his favorite thing about homecoming is renting "the largest Penske moving truck in the mid-Missouri area to drive around campus for a week."

Kristen Buri

Kristen Buri watched as the largest freshman class in the history of MU rushed through the columns during this year's Tiger Walk.

"The bands were playing, balloons were flying," Buri said. "It was a very nostalgic moment for me."

Buri, a marketing major and English minor, is from Kansas City. A nominee from the Alumni Association Student Board, she has always been involved in homecoming, from pomping as a freshman to helping with the blood drive. Now, Buri enjoys being a part of the homecoming royalty because it allows her to help out with all aspects of the homecoming celebration.

After going through the homecoming application process, she is in the midst of another application process as she goes job searching for her post-graduation years.

"I'm applying to companies all across the country," Buri said. "Stay tuned."

Kevin Gehl

Kevin Gehl isn't Greek. In fact, he's the only top 10 male candidate for homecoming royalty who isn't; the Campus Tour Team nominated him.

"The percentage of this happening is just incredible," Gehl said. "The other candidates are all just such great leaders, and to be considered part of this group is just really invigorating."

Gehl, a broadcast journalism major from Pleasanton, Calif., is a sports anchor and reporter at KOMU/Channel 8, sports director at KCOU/88.1 FM and a Journalism Scholar honors student.

Gehl said his favorite aspect of homecoming is the football game.

"Seeing all the alumni come back, seeing their smiling faces is always fun," Gehl said. "It makes you realize that you're part of something a lot bigger. Mizzou has been here so long before we've been here, and it will be here for so much longer after we leave."

Traci Harr

A group led by Traci Harr advocated that the city of Columbia pass an ordinance prohibiting smoking in public places and places of employment. In October 2006, the city passed this ordinance, in part because of Peers Advocating Smoke-free Solutions.

"I realized that I was really part of the Columbia community and of the MU community," Harr said.

Harr, a native of Maryville, is one of 10 seniors selected to sit on this year's homecoming court. She considers the nomination by her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, a great honor.

"They select women who they really look up to and respect, so this is a really cool experience for me," Harr said. "It's my last great homecoming before graduation."

After graduating, Harr hopes to use her interdisciplinary studies major, with emphases in political science and business, to serve in a public office here in Missouri.

Adam Hickey

When Adam Hickey found out he had been selected as homecoming royalty, it took a few moments for reality to sink in.

"Well, they kidnapped me at five o'clock in the morning, so I wasn't feeling anything besides grogginess and wanting to go back to sleep," Hickey said.

But, eventually, when he was standing with the other nominees, he realized what an honor it was.

"I knew all the nine other people, and I knew everything they represented, everything that they were involved in, and so being able to be on the same level as them was just a really great honor," Hickey said.

He said being homecoming royalty allows him to set an example for other students, guidance he said he wished he could have had.

"When I was a freshman it was hard for me to find my place here," Hickey said. "I was nervous and things like that. I think being able to just kind of show them that you can make this place your own."

Hickey, who hails from a suburb of Paris, France, said he was nominated by his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi.

Hickey formally worked for The Maneater staff.

Max Hyman

Max Hyman, a broadcast journalism major from New York, was surprised to even be nominated for homecoming royalty, much less be selected for the top 10.

When Hyman's fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, nominated him, he said he felt honored. "I love my fraternity," Hyman said. "Everything I've done at Mizzou is because of AEPi."

After that, he said being chosen for the top 10 was one of the best surprises he's gotten. Hyman says he was shocked to make it this far because he comes from a very small chapter on campus.

Hyman has attended a number of community service activities during his candidacy, including Tigers Taming Hunger, the blood drive and the 5K race. His favorite part of homecoming royalty, however, was the banquet. Hyman called it "an absolute treat," joking, "I've never been honored before at anything. I felt very out of place, like, 'Oh my God, they're saying such nice things about me!'"

Melanie Myears

Melanie Myears has black and gold in her veins. She is just one of many family members to have attended MU, so Myears was especially excited to tell her parents, both alumni, that she is now a part of one of MU's many traditions.

"I felt so honored," Myears said of discovering she had made the top 10 for homecoming royalty. "Everything is like a dream come true."

A strategic communications major from Springfield, Mo., Myears is representing the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority on the homecoming court.

One of Myears' favorite opportunities as a royalty candidate was volunteering at Tiger Tango, where she and other students danced with elderly people.

"I really feel like we had as much fun as they did," she said. "We were kicking off our shoes."

Myears hopes to one day send her own children to MU because of the many wonderful experiences she has had here. While she found it difficult to select only one favorite memory, Myears says she enjoyed forming friendships "that will last so much longer than just four years."

Emily Roxberg

Emily Roxberg might be from Overland Park, Kan., "the heart of Jayhawk country," but her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, still nominated her for homecoming royalty.

"It's an honor, an honor that I never expected, so I think it's been fun and I have been blessed," Roxberg said. "It's been the perfect end to four years."

She said she looks forward to participating in the homecoming activities, such as the blood drive, skits and residence hall barbeques. Roxberg has also been a member of the Alumni Association Student Board for the past four years.

"So I think it's awesome to kind of cap off the end of our years by helping out with everything," she said. "It's getting to get out there, and it's fun, because I think all the homecoming royalty candidates have served our university. You know, we've all worked so hard."

Roxberg said that, when she found out that she had been nominated, she did not stop smiling for the entire day.

"It was just a good feeling," she said. "You've got to enjoy it, you know, you only get to do it once."

Bryan VanGronigen

First-generation college student Bryan VanGronigen's entire family is involved in celebrating his nomination to the homecoming court.

"When I found out that I was selected, it was really a cool experience, and the first thing I did was call home and tell mom and dad," VanGronigen said.

VanGronigen, who is from south St. Louis, said being nominated was an honor. He said he was in good company with two other students nominated from his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha. VanGronigen said he is friends with all of the top 10 candidates.

"The people that I'm with are fantastic servants to Mizzou, and it's nice to be in their company," he said. "It's great that we all represent different things and, through those different things, we've been able to find a common set of values for the betterment of this university."

During his time at MU, VanGronigen said he has volunteered around Columbia and been involved in other student organizations, including being president of the Interfraternity Council.

Lauren Zima

When nominated for something, Kappa Alpha Theta Vice President Lauren Zima always tells herself she didn't win so she doesn't get disappointed. She was wrong, however, when she became homecoming royalty by making the top 10.

Zima, a senior in the School of Journalism, said skits are her favorite part of homecoming. Her two passions in life, she said, are writing and theater. Zima brings these passions to her activities, which include Comedy Wars, Students of Theatre Acting in Roles of Service, Journalism Scholars Association, Journalism School Ambassadors, Interactive Theater troupe, Magazine Club, three Chancellor's Standing Committees and theater department productions.

"I really try to fill every hour of every day," Zima said. "College is the only time in your life you'll be able to be involved in so many different organizations and meet so many diverse groups of people."

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