By Kat Riddler, Managing Editor

On February 24, the University of Missouri-St. Louis named Yaniv Dudaie, senior, international business, as Homecoming King and Ares Lopez, senior, psychology as Homecoming Queen for 2018.

Dudaie is part of Alpha Sigma Phi, Entrepreneurship Club, Delta Sigma Pi, International Business Honors Society. He was sponsored by the entrepreneurship club and Alpha Sigma Phi. Dudaie decided to run for Homecoming Court to raise awareness for something he was passionate about. He said, “Throughout my time at UMSL I realized all the issues that surround students on their academic journey and that’s when I learned that it all comes down to one basic element- engagement. Student engagement is in and out of the classroom, it needs to be this ongoing interaction between the student and the university(staff, faculty, friends, events…).  I wanted to use the homecoming court as a platform to talk to more individuals about student engagement and use this week to get going to events and experiencing another side of campus.”

Dudaie used this passion to gain student engagement throughout the week. He had a matching deal with his fraternity where they would match the amount of money he raised for Canstruction. He was able to raise over 1,100 cans because of this. He also raised money for his scholarship supporting Entrepreneurial Studies Scholarship by reaching out to professors, staff, school organizations, and students.

Lopez is part of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Triton Health Educators. Lopez is also a student athlete on the women’s golf team. Lopez said, “I love my teammates and I am thankful for the opportunity I got to be here and study an area that I’m passionate about while playing the sport I love. For those reason, I believed that I would be a good candidate and so did the other athletes. The fact that they trusted me to represent them made me run for Homecoming Queen with confidence.”

Lopez was sponsored by SAAC and the Triton Health Educators. Lopez said, “Honestly, I relied a lot in the good relationships that I had built during my four years at UMSL. I could not have become Homecoming Queen without the support and votes of so many people who cared enough to give me some of their time.”

During the campaign week, Ethan Short and Lopez paired together to help each other out. Lopez said, “If you are a future candidate, I would recommend you to team up with someone. It makes it more fun and you get a lot of support.”

Lopez used social media to share the link to vote and advertise events. Lopez said, “Another way to get attention is to be creative and succeed during the events. I believe that SAAC and Triton Health Educators did a great job at being creative and efficient in every competition and people around noticed us.”

For the campaigning for voting, Dudaie made flyers to put around the university and would use his classes as platforms to tell students about him and to vote. Voting concluded that Friday of homecoming week and the winner of Homecoming King and Queen was announced at the dance on Saturday.

Dudaie said, “It was an amazing feeling to be recognized for the hard work I put into this campaign but also to be recognized for what I am trying to accomplish can not be described in words. It is truly the foundations of my journey. After I have done what I preached now I know my mission as started to change student retention and engagement on university campuses.”
Lopez said, “I was in shock. I was already happy and thankful that SAAC had won and I did not expect to be Homecoming Queen. Not because I was not a good candidate or because I did not deserve it. First of all, it was surprising because for us athletes this was a new experience. We did not know exactly what was expected from us or which resources to use. It was a year to try and learn, and it turned out to be a success. Also, the other candidates did a wonderful job and they are beautiful individuals. We all deserved it, so I would say it was a happy unexpected moment. I felt proud and really happy for the organizations I am part of.”