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Friday January 22nd

Meet the students who want to be crowned Mr. and Miss UNC this Homecoming Week

The homecoming candidates, from left, Psalms White, McKinley McNeil, Kierra Pittman, Reana Johnson, Emily Flowers, Jaylen Evans, and Tyger Hanback.
Buy Photos The homecoming candidates, from left, Psalms White, McKinley McNeil, Kierra Pittman, Reana Johnson, Emily Flowers, Jaylen Evans, and Tyger Hanback.

Homecoming Week at the University is more than just a time for hundreds of alumni to flock to their alma mater. It's also a time to celebrate the current students and vote for Mr. and Miss UNC. 

A tradition that began in the late 1930s, the election of a Homecoming king and queen was originally a popularity contest, with the queen being the most popular female student and the king being the most popular professor on campus. Today, the process is more difficult, and candidates are chosen based on service to the University and the local community rather than by peer approval. 

The titles of the students elected to the positions changed to Mr. and Miss UNC in the 2000s. 

“Mr. and Miss UNC represent the UNC student body,” Hayden Huffman — co-president of the Homecoming Committee and a senior majoring in peace, war and defense and political science — said. “They embody service, character, leadership and scholarship — with an emphasis on service.”

Each candidate runs on a service-oriented platform of their choosing. The only requirement for the project is that it benefits the University or local community. Mr. and Miss UNC each receive funding for their projects from the General Alumni Association, which hosts Homecoming Week celebrations through the Homecoming Committee.

This year, there were seven candidates total — five for Miss UNC and two for Mr. UNC. To be eligible, candidates had to attend an interest meeting and be graduating in the spring of 2020.

Students voted for the candidates by ranking their preferences on Monday. This voting procedure differed from previous years, when voting took place over a two-week period with multiple voting rounds.  

The top three candidates for Mr. and Miss UNC were announced Tuesday night. The two candidates for Mr. UNC automatically advanced. The top three candidates for Miss. UNC are Kierra Pittman, McKinley McNeill and Psalms White. Mr. and Miss UNC will be from these finalists. 

Below is a profile of each of the candidates.

Miss UNC Candidates 

McKinley McNeill

McNeill is a senior majoring in communication studies. Her platform is called “Feed50” and has the goal of providing monthly meal packages to 50 children in the program.

Psalms White

White is a senior majoring in communication studies. Her platform is called “You’ve got the Keys,” and it aims to provide a series of self-improvement workshops for students in an effort to give them the tools necessary to advocate for themselves and others.

Kierra Pittman

Pittman is a senior majoring in media and journalism. Her platform, “Art of Y(our) Story,” aims to allow students to express themselves through their preferred medium. Donations will also be collected for the Compass Center for Women and Families.

Reana Johnson

Johnson is a senior majoring in communication studies. Her platform is called “Intentional Living” and aims to create an environment of healthy living based on eight dimensions of wellness.

Emily Flowers 

Flowers is a senior majoring in business administration. Her platform is called “#EndIt,” and it focuses on sexual assault awareness and prevention on campus.

Mr. UNC Candidates 

Jaylen Evans

Evans is a senior majoring in health policy and management. His platform is called “F.O.C.U.S.,” which stands for Facilitating Opportunities for College-Bound Underrepresented Students. Evans plans to use his talents in photography to provide a scholarship for a student from the class of 2024 to help them transition to the University, as well as a professionalism package to further their career aspirations.

Tyger Hanback

Hanback is a senior majoring in biology and neuroscience. His platform is called “Music Unites.”  His two-part service project aims to have musicians play at the State Employee Credit Union Family House for families of long-term care patients, as well as having a local high school host a music day. He said that any proceeds will go toward the school’s music and art department.

The Big Reveal

The final reveal of Mr. and Miss UNC will take place at the beginning of the Saturday football game against Duke. 

“Ultimately, the significance of the election is to crown someone who embodies what it is to be a student at UNC, on and off campus,” Huffman said. “Their service project plays the biggest role and can leave a lasting impact on both our campus and surrounding community as some have in the past.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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