Homecoming student royalty is a tradition celebrating the accomplishments of some of the top student leaders on campus. Last year’s Homecoming king, Isaac Hollis, was proud to use his royal platform as an opportunity to show his fellow Redbirds the importance of staying true to oneself.
Student royalty recognizes the top student leaders on campus, and Hollis certainly fits the bill. He is the president of the Black Student Union and holds leadership roles with the University Program Board and the Student Government Association. He is also a co-founder of Moor Pride Inc., a student organization that promotes a positive image of black LGBTQ+ students at Illinois State, and the Black Homecoming Committee.
The organizational leadership and communication major was inspired to apply for Homecoming King by the previous year’s Homecoming queen, Mariah Moran ’19, and 2016 student royalty, Jaylon Joyner ’18 and Ashley Shannon ’18. All three were student leaders in Illinois State’s black community, and it was important for Hollis to continue that tradition. As a black, gay man, Hollis also wanted to represent the LGBTQ+ community and hold his identities up equally to the Illinois State community.
“When you are someone in my position, you feel like you have to turn one identity on and the other off depending on the situation you are in,” Hollis said. “I wanted to show you can be both. Being able to show people that these are my identities and I don’t have to turn one of them off to get to where I want to go is something I am passionate about.”
To be considered for royalty, students first need to be nominated. After receiving a nomination, the student is sent a link to an application form. By filling out the form, the student signals that they are interested in moving forward. Applications are considered by a committee composed of Illinois State faculty, staff, alumni, and students. This committee passes the top applicants to a second committee that interviews the finalists.
The application and interviews are both scored, and the top 10 marks determine who will compose the Homecoming Court. Court members are announced during the annual Homecoming Kick Off with the Prez event on October 21. The greater Illinois State community then votes to determine who should be crowned student royalty, i.e. King and Queen. The final decision is based on the cumulative totals of votes an individual received and their application and interview scores. This year, student royalty will be crowned October 26 at Reggie’s Tailgate before the football game.
Even though Hollis felt he had performed well throughout the process, he was surprised when he was announced the 2019 Homecoming king.
“I was very shocked,” he said. “One of my good friends from back home came to one of the Homecoming events and recorded the actual moment that I won. I didn’t expect it. I really didn’t expect it.”
During events held Homecoming Saturday, Hollis and Homecoming queen Leah Nolan ’19 took over the main Illinois State University Instagram page, made an appearance at Reggie’s Tailgate, and were announced during the Homecoming football game halftime along with the alumni king and queen and Homecoming prince and princess. Hollis’ favorite part was participating in the Homecoming Parade. It was Hollis’ first opportunity to attend the parade, and he was happy his introduction to the Illinois State tradition was as student royalty.
“I loved being in the parade, being in the firetruck,” he said. “It was just funny seeing how people looked at us, especially children. They don’t understand what it really means but they see the crown and tiara and think we are so amazing. It was just so much fun.”
Nominate a Redbird for student royalty by September 26 at Homecoming.IllinoisState.edu/Royalty. See all Homecoming events at Homecoming.IllinoisState.edu or by downloading the Illinois State University app and searching for “Homecoming.”