The 2017 University of Utah Homecoming Court is Carly Shields, Ridge Durrant, Amanda Groneman, Eric Nhem, Liz Reiss and Keely Kringlen.

One of the longest-standing traditions of the University of Utah’s Homecoming Celebration is the selection of a Homecoming Court, comprised of six students chosen to “represent the university and student body at various campus and community events throughout Homecoming Week.” The first royalty ever selected was 1932 Homecoming Queen Margaret Price Carlson, and the tradition has been carried on through the years since.

In order to be selected for membership on the court, students have to either be nominated or individually nominate themselves, be a full-time student at the U and hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater. The nominees each submitted answers to questions about their involvement at the U, attended an interview with the Royalty Committee and created a presentation explaining what Homecoming Royalty means to them. Those selected for the Court each won a $1,000 scholarship for the spring 2018 semester.

The six members of 2017 Homecoming Court are:

Amanda Groneman

Groneman is a senior studying human development and family studies through the Honors College while pursuing a minor in nutrition. She has been involved in numerous campus programs over the years, including the Bennion Center Scholars, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) First Year Council.

“I really love how many opportunities there are around campus,” Groneman said. “I know that I personally have gotten a lot out of the programs I’ve been a part of.”

Through the Bennion Center Scholars program, Amanda has been working to complete 400 hours of service. She has volunteered with Kids Crew at Primary Children’s Hospital, served as a reading tutor at Roosevelt Elementary and a vision screener at Friends for Sight. Groneman recently began volunteering in hospice care as well. She aims to become a pediatric cancer nurse, and has acquired experience at Primary Children’s working as a cancer unit technician and has helped conduct multiple research studies at the hospital.

Groneman said that being a member of the Homecoming Court is an incredible honor not just for her, but her family as well.

“I have many grandparents who have graduated from the U, and it’s amazing to continue the legacy of the university in my family history,” Groneman said.

She said she can’t wait for the day that she gets to see her own grandchildren follow in her footsteps and participate in the U’s traditions. Amanda loves the excitement and passion she sees at sporting events — some of her favorite traditions at the U include tailgates, pep rallies and other game day festivities.

Carly Shields

Shields is a junior and member of the Honors College at the U. She is a pre-med student in human development with an emphasis in child life and is minoring in chemistry and pediatric research. Shields is passionate about organic chemistry, traveling, journaling, the outdoors and spending time with friends and family. In addition to her diverse interests, Shields has been a part of many different programs around campus, including the First Year Service Corps as both a member and a director, the Bennion Center’s Community Outreach Program, Project Youth, UROP and the Pan-Hellenic Scholarship board. She also currently works as a piano teacher and hospice care volunteer.

“My time in hospice has made me passionate about end of life care, companionship and patient needs,” Shields said.

She said that she loves both kids and medicine, so she is aiming to become a pediatrician in the future.

Shields feels grateful to be apart of Homecoming Court because she feels that it represents how far she has come throughout her undergraduate career — professionally, personally and academically. She is happy to represent the U as well, especially because she is a third generation student.

“I am proud and honored to represent a school that means so much so much to my family and has come, over the years, to mean so much to me,” she said.

Shields considers Legacy of Lowell to be one of her favorite campus traditions. She has attended it every year of her undergraduate career. This year, she has played a larger role in planning the event and will lead a river clean-up project.

Eric Nhem

Nhem is a senior pursuing an honors degree in psychology with a minor in gender studies. During his time at the U, Nhem has been involved in both research and volunteer work. He has worked in a research lab studying first-generation students’ experiences in college and he is one of the directors of Project Youth, a Bennion Center program that teaches Title I elementary students about higher education. In addition to Project Youth, Nhem participates in the Bud Bailey Youth Tutoring Program, where he tutors diverse, underserved students in English, and the Elevate Theater Company of Tanner Dance at the U. Later this year, he plans to use the data from his research in his senior thesis.

“This research means a lot because I am a first-generation student myself,” Nhem said.

Nhem aims to attend graduate school at the U and would ultimately like to become a high school counselor.

“Students in that age group go through some difficult times, and I want to be there for them to help guide them,” Nhem said.

He is looking forward to the activities happening throughout Homecoming Week. Nhem is eager to be a member of the Court and to celebrate the culture of the U. He credits his family with helping him get to where he is today, and is excited to for the opportunity to represent his Cambodian culture. Of all the traditions at the U, Eric said that he loves Legacy of Lowell at the Bennion Center the most.

“It’s a day where people who want to do good come together and perform various service projects for the betterment of the community.”

Keely Kringlen

Kringlen is a senior majoring in Geography. She is fascinated by maps and the movement of people. In addition to her interests in geography, Kringlen is a pre-med student and minoring in French. She has been speaking the language for over four years. Throughout her time at the U, Kringlen has served as the social justice coordinator for the Bennion Center, where she oversees 10 different student-directed programs relating to social justice in the community. She also volunteers with Connect2Health in the Pediatric Specialty unit, and was a Girl Scout troop leader for a group of refugees. Her favorite volunteer experience has been her work at Camp Hobé, a camp for children with cancer.

“I would like to become a doctor, and I have a lot of interest in oncology as well, so it’s great to work with kids impacted by cancer at this camp,” Kringlen said.

Kringlen is happy to be a part of this year’s Homecoming Court because she hopes to represent students from a wide variety of interests and departments at the U.

“I’m excited to bring my passions to a larger platform on campus, and I think it will be a great way to connect with students and the community,” she said.

Her favorite campus tradition is Legacy of Lowell, which she thinks is a great way for get students involved in service projects.

Liz Reiss

Reiss is a senior in the Honors College, majoring in business marketing. She considers her interests to be very diverse, including sports, nature, technology and philanthropy among her many passions. Reiss is currently the co-chair of the Marketing Committee on the MUSS Board, as well as the social media intern for the MUSS, under the Alumni Association. She is also working with the Utah Athletics Marketing Department as the lead technology and video intern. In the past, she has served as the vice president and director of scholarship for her sorority, Chi Omega, volunteered with Make-A-Wish Foundation and participated in Business Scholars.

“I find philanthropy to be extremely rewarding, and I love having the opportunity to help aid children in making their dreams come true,” Reiss said.

In the future, she aims to attend business school and eventually be part of a company that works to solve problems in the community.

For Liz, being selected for the Homecoming Court means that she gets to represent the institution that she feels has given her so much. She said she is grateful for this opportunity to give back and hopes to show the community why she loves the U so much.

“The University of Utah offers nearly everything I value in life — friendship, culture, family, community, academics and spirit,” she said.

Her favorite university tradition is The MUSS, and she has been heavily involved in it since she was a freshman.

“Nothing is more fun than being surrounded by people who are as enthusiastic and as spirited as you are about supporting our teams.”

Ridge Durrant

Durrant is a junior pursuing a major in biomedical engineering. He has been held numerous positions at the U, including university ambassador, orientation leader and residential advisor. Durrant is currently funded by UROP for research on tissue engineering with bone marrow. He has volunteered at the Ronald McDonald house and has also worked as the campus marketing representative for the social media application Yik Yak. Durrant’s career goals are in the field of biomedicine. He said that he hopes to research and contribute to regenerative medicine techniques in the future, so that he can help make lives easier through developments in this area.

He is eager to participate in this year’s Homecoming Court for several reasons.

“It means I get to represent the greatest university in the best state in the nation, and that I get to be involved with awesome service projects and social initiatives on campus, too,” Durrant said.

His favorite campus tradition is the Freshman Class Block U photo taken on the field at Rice Eccles Stadium at the beginning of every year. He says that it’s fun to be all together as a class.

a.fulwider@dailyutahchronicle.com

6 COMMENTS

    • I wouldn’t say “hatred” per se, but definitely not promoting diversity at all. Would have been great to have represented some older students and how they contribute. Looks to be like students who can AFFORD to participate in many unpaid volunteer experiences and socialize with the “right” kind of people to get themselves nominated. However, I’m also not surprised– this school is the ultimate social-ladder-climbing experience. It’s all about who you know (i.e. who your parents know). This explains the mediocre faculty and staff.

  1. So the majority of the “court” have ties with the Bennion Center or honors college; majority are white; not one non-trad student. Real diversity there! Want to bet most of these students don’t hold a part or full-time job, aren’t first generation college students, work for the U already, middle/upper class, and/or have a scholarship. Good job U, way to represent the 1%.

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