2018 homecoming king and queen talk UMSL pride, rewarding student journeys
Year after year, Ares Boira Lopez leaves her home country of Spain to return to the University of Missouri–St. Louis – a place where she feels welcomed, understood and appreciated.
The UMSL student body validated those sentiments on Saturday when the psychology major and women’s golfer was named the 2018 homecoming queen. She was crowned alongside triple major Yaniv Dudaie during the Homecoming Dinner and Dance at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark.
The newly announced king and queen caught up with UMSL Daily after their coronation to discuss what it was like to win and other favorite UMSL memories.
How does it feel to be UMSL royalty?
Ares Boira Lopez: It feels great. When I was named homecoming queen, I was shocked and I could not believe it at first. After a few seconds, I could just hear everyone cheering and smiling at me. I felt accomplished and successful. I felt recognized for all the effort I put into every homecoming event. Honestly, every candidate deserved it. Working next to them was a pleasure, and we all represented the UMSL spirit.
Yaniv Dudaie: It feels fulfilling. My only goal in running for homecoming was to be a part of the students driving student engagement and creating a sense of belonging on campus. Throughout the spirit week events, I was able to see students taking part and engaging.
What was your favorite part of homecoming week?
ABL: Definitely the lip sync! I did not want it to end. I was really impressed by every group’s performance. I enjoyed it a lot, especially when performing. At first, I was nervous. But once I was on stage, I loved every second of it. I thought every member showed their personality in a creative and entertaining way.
YD: My favorite part of homecoming week was the last two days when all the big events took place – lip sync and the dinner. It was where I was able to see what everyone was working so hard for, and it was just simply amazing.
What organizations nominated you, and why are these organizations important to you?
ABL: The organizations that nominated me were the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Triton Health Educators. This is my first year as a member of SAAC. I have always been a person who enjoys making friends and connecting with other people. Inside of athletics, it is easy to bond with the members of your own team. The challenge is to connect all the teams to work together and get to know each other. SAAC makes that happen by creating events for all the athletes and making them work together toward an amazing goal: Raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
I have been a member of Triton Health Educators for about two years, and I recently became one of its leaders. This student group has the important task of informing UMSL students about health. Through educational events, we address alcohol abuse prevention, sexual harassment prevention, stress management, exercise, nutrition and self-love.
YD: I was nominated by two organizations: Alpha Sigma Phi and the Entrepreneur Club. These organizations are important to me because they represent who I am as an individual. The Entrepreneur Club is aimed at giving students the resources and skill sets to accomplish anything they set their mind to. We call it the “entrepreneurial mindset.” I personally try to empower others but, in the process, I’m trying to acquire skills to create my own companies.
Then Alpha Sigma Phi represents what I am trying to accomplish. I see myself as someone starting companies in the future, not joining them for the long term. Alpha Sigma Phi is my first step in that direction. Being part of the founding fathers of this new fraternity gave me the chance to start something new and make it successful.
What makes you #UMSLproud?
ABL: I am proud of many things. First of all, I am proud of the variety of people that are found at UMSL. It has given me the chance to understand other cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds better and be inspired by our differences. I am also proud of the faculty and staff. They are always willing to help, which has been much needed since I am an athlete and we compete many weekdays. I am proud of how safe we are on campus thanks to our police. I am also proud of all the scholarships the university gives to students and the money raised for good causes. I am proud of the people in general, which for me is what is most attractive about UMSL.
YD: What makes me UMSL proud is seeing how others see UMSL and seeing where their alums ended up. Taking part in the business world, I see how companies favor UMSL students because they know they have a high work ethic and are versatile in their skills. It also makes me proud to see the humbling fact that we have so many high-ranking executives in the business world as alumni, and even with busy schedules, they find a way to give back to the UMSL community.
What has been your most rewarding experience at UMSL?
ABL: It might sound counterintuitive, but my most rewarding experience at UMSL has been struggling. I struggled living with people I did not know and, after some difficulties, my roommates have become my second family. I struggled being far from my loved ones, but because of that, I have connected with new people in a really special way. I struggled playing golf, and it has just made me stronger. I struggled putting everything together for every homecoming event and here I am proud, happy and feeling like a queen. Thank you UMSL!
YD: The most rewarding experience at UMSL has been challenging myself. UMSL offers so many experiences in and out of the classroom as well as many opportunities to get involved off campus. I learned quickly that it’s not choosing to do this or that. I can do whatever I set my mind to. It will just be a challenge to accomplish it. So over my time at UMSL, I was able to balance my academics, being involved with many student organizations, playing intramurals, having a job and starting a company. This was me taking on challenges in a comfortable environment with the support of many professors, staff and friends. This gives me the confidence to replicate that in the professional world after graduation.
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