2018 A&M-Commerce Homecoming Queen seeks community ties

Christian Aleman, Co-Editor

Ward Sakeik
DeVaunghta Johnson (left) was crowned 2018 Homecoming King, and Camille Rivera (right) was crowned 2018 Homecoming Queen.

Christian Aleman | Co-Editor

The fun and excitement surrounding the annual Homecoming celebration may have come and gone, but Homecoming Queen Camille Rivera has just begun her work in the role she won.

Born on the island of Puerto Rico, she moved to Dallas with her family when she was still a child. She went on to attend Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, an all-girls school, where she discovered her passion for being involved.

“I think that’s where a lot of like, besides my mother, where I really solidified why I wanted to be a leader. In that school we were all equals,” she said. “While I was doing that I was also super involved, I love being involved. I was president of the National Honor Society on that campus, I started the French Club. I didn’t really know French but we tried, we really tried.”

Once Rivera came to A&M-Commerce, she sought out ways to stay involved around campus. Throughout her four years at TAMUC she has been a Resident Assistant, president of the Resident Assistant Council, secretary and president for the National Society of Leadership and Success, vice president of Gamma Phi Beta, member of the criminal justice honor society and also traveled to Thailand with Leadership Without Limits. She has maintained her extracurricular involvement on top of being a triple major in criminal justice, paralegal studies and sociology with a minor in psychology.

“I really think it was my sophomore and junior year where I just had like no life but student involvement,” she said. “It’s really worked out in the long run I think.”

Road to the Throne

After being nominated on behalf of her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, Rivera went on to apply and take an interview with the committee in charge of the homecoming festivities.

“At first, I’m going to be honest, I did not want to run because I knew it was going to be really time consuming, which it was,” Rivera said. “They [her sorority sisters] were just telling me ‘Look, you are the most involved out of all of us, like you are the definition of Gamma Phi Beta and we think you are the best candidate for this.’ I was like ‘Well, now that you say it that way I guess.’ But it really worked out in the long run.”

She campaigned throughout the week following up to elections with the help of her sorority sisters. Rivera visited with a number of student organizations, met people in passing at the Sam Rayburn Student Center and passed out stickers with that said “#GetRealVoteCamille.”

“It was definitely a team effort so I like to think that I’m not just the only queen, but Gamma Phi Beta as a whole is it. They really helped me a lot with the background stuff,” Rivera said. “I just really got my face out there and connected with a lot of people and the good part was that I honestly knew a lot of them anyway, so it worked out.”

However, throughout the campaigning process she knew it would be a “very close race” and that she might not even win because of the tough competition.

“I knew the finalists but even before then I knew I was going against very prominent women on campus. A lot of them were RAs [Resident Assistants] or they are also Greek; they’re also leaders in their own thing,” She said. “The whole time I was like ‘Wow. I have to do this. This is go time. There’s no time to just slack around.’”  

When Oct. 27 came around and she heard her name called out as she stood on the field at halftime, Rivera was in “pure shock.”

“It felt like forever in my head. I was like ‘Did they really say my name? That’s my name, oh my God,’” Rivera said. “My aunt, she was the one who escorted me, she was looking at me, she was like ‘You won, you won, what do we do now?’ That was really funny to me now that I think back to it but at first I was like ‘Oh my God. This happened’ After that I just felt like overwhelming happiness and gratitude honestly. I could hear my sisters from far away.”

Building Bridges

Rivera aims to use her new position as a bridge between the university and the surrounding community by being active and present at school and community events. That was the goal she had developed through the application and campaigning process, beginning at the interview she had with members of the homecoming committee.

“What really shocked me is that when I went into my initial interview, I asked them ‘What does the homecoming king and queen do afterwards? What have the previous one’s done?’ and they said nothing,” Rivera said. “So really with this platform I want to push people to continue to be involved.”

The 2018 Homecoming Queen plans on breaking the trend followed by previous homecoming royalty, especially since she sees a “really big disconnect” between TAMUC and Commerce.

“I want to be there to support in a way; being there for the city kind of. I’m just inviting people out,” Rivera said. “Like you step on the atmosphere and its one different atmosphere and you step off the university and it’s something totally different, which is fine but we have to find a way to come together at times.”