Q&A: Meet the 2018 Homecoming King, Queen
Seniors Alivia Mikahiel and Karim Motani were crowned 2018 Homecoming Queen and King, respectively, at Saturday’s Homecoming football game against Temple after a week-long voting period.
Homecoming court has been a tradition at UH since 1946, the first year the University held Homecoming.
Potential candidates for Homecoming royalty have to complete multiple steps before becoming eligible for a place on the court. Each step emphasizes service, involvement, aspirations for the future and overall Cougar Pride, said Homecoming Chair Mayra Castillo.
Students had the opportunity to vote for Homecoming King and Queen over the course of Homecoming week. Each candidate’s profile was listed on the Homecoming poll, found on Get Involved through the Access UH portal.
The crowning ceremony was held during halftime after the announcement of the winners of the Spirit Bell, a decorating contest between faculty and staff, and the Spirit Cup, a competition between spirit teams.
UH President Renu Khator with her husband and industrial engineering professor Suresh Khator, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Kowalka, Homecoming Vice Chair Jesus Garza, Director of Court Anthony Salcido, and Castillo accompanied the Homecoming court to the field.
President Khator and her husband crowned the queen and king, respectively, followed by photos before the procession rushed off the field so the Spirit of Houston marching band could take its place. Castillo said Homecoming royalty were then escorted to the President’s suite.
The Homecoming King and Queen represent students who have impacted the campus and fellow students through their service and involvement, representing the values of our alma mater and serving as role models of what a Cougar should be, Castillo said.
Homecoming Queen Alivia Mikahiel is a finance and marketing senior who has volunteered as a cub camp counselor, worked with the Orientation Team and for the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. She is a Ted Bauer undergraduate business scholar and president of the American Marketing Association at UH.
Mikahiel is also a sister of the Chi Omega sorority.
Homecoming King Karim Motani is a supply chain management senior who serves on the executive board of Alpha Sigma Phi, is a residential assistant at Bayou Oaks, and like Mikahiel, has worked on the Orientation Team. He is a member of the Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma, the highest recognition an undergraduate business student can receive.
The Cougar sat down with the Homecoming royalty to discuss the process of running for and winning King and Queen.
The Cougar: Why did you choose to run for Homecoming King/Queen?
Karim Motani: I chose to run for Homecoming King to be able to represent my friends and family, to share my story on a greater scale. I wanted to be able to inspire others to reach a higher level of achievement than myself, because I think that’s what it is all about, being able to encourage and motivate others to keep raising the standard of excellence to a level that wasn’t thought possible.
From only knowing two people when I arrived as a freshman in Fall 2015 to being a senior now, I have had the honor to accomplish many great things, but I wanted to be able to inspire others to create their own stories and impact, and to know that they will always have someone there that believes in them.
I wanted to be able to be a representation of how hard work, passion, and ambition can come together for an individual to make a difference in the world, and I hope that message was conveyed this past Saturday.
Alivia Mikahiel: I love the University of Houston so much, and I am so thankful for all the opportunities it’s given me. This was the perfect way to show my cougar pride.
TC: What is the importance of Homecoming and the HC King/Queen?
Motani: Homecoming will always have a special place in my heart.
I believe that the importance of Homecoming King and Queen is that they are the representation of the student body and how far the University has come. I also believe that they are a beacon of what will come next as they represent a model of excellence for others to follow.
To be able to share my story and be able to touch people’s lives — that means the world to me — and I’m excited to represent the University to the best of my abilities.
Mikahiel: I feel like Homecoming is really important because it reminds people to come back to their roots and no matter where they are in life, they’ll always be cougars. This year’s Homecoming theme was “Go Big & Come Home” which I think is a perfect description of what Homecoming is.
The Homecoming King and Queen are people who are passionate and involved in the University of Houston.
TC: What were the criteria you had to meet in order to run for Homecoming King/Queen?
Motani: The criteria I had to meet to run for Homecoming King was pretty straightforward. We had to attend an information session, have an organization sponsor us, fill out an application and write out three essays that had several prompts.
Afterwards, we had a round of interviews, and from then on, we had the opportunity to campaign to make court. Once you made court, your involvement during homecoming week was critical to being able to choose the next Homecoming King and Queen.
Mikahiel: There was an application, then interviews, then cuts were made afterwards. Then, students voted, and the top five candidates for King and the top five candidates for Queen made it onto Homecoming court. Then a combination of involvement, interviews, resume, GPA and attendance at events during that week resulted in the final King and Queen.
TC: What did winning Homecoming King/Queen mean to you? How did you feel?
Motani: Being able to win Homecoming King meant the entire world to me. It felt as if everything in my college career finally came together and clicked.
It was the culmination of all my hard work, dedication to the University and organizations and commitment to my academics. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I was left speechless.
I never ran to win or just for the title, I genuinely wanted to be able to inspire others to achieve great things and be even better than me. I truly believe that I can say I achieved that. It’s a great honor to be Homecoming King, it’s a moment that I never dreamed possible, it’s an experience I will never forget and will pass down for the rest of my life.
I will forever be grateful for what the University has been able to provide for me.
Mikahiel: I feel like I finally made my mark here. This is definitely a huge milestone in my life and I’m never ever going to be able to forget this. I’m so speechless and shocked that it even happened.
TC: Did you know each other beforehand?
Motani: I did know the Homecoming Queen beforehand. We are Bauer students and Ted Bauer Scholars. It’s an exclusive group of students recognized for accomplishing many great things on campus, displaying great leadership experience, and strong academics.
Alivia has done amazing things for the College of Business, and for the University on a macro-level. She’s truly a great person with a pure heart, she deserves this and more as she has given so much to the University of Houston community. I’m so proud of her.
Mikahiel: Yes, we are both involved in very similar extracurriculars. We were both on the Orientation Team, in Greek life, and heavily involved within Bauer.