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Homecoming royalty reflect on their experiences at IU


IU’s 2019 Homecoming Court stands together Oct. 12 in Memorial Stadium. The homecoming court was announced during halftime. Courtesy Photo

Haley Sample had been sitting in the stands with her mom and younger sister, and she joined the twelve other members of the homecoming court on the sidelines for the second quarter of the game. 

Susie Szymanski, who plays clarinet in the Marching Hundred, had just finished performing the band’s show, which featured songs such as “Living on a Prayer” and “I Was Made for Dancin’.”

The two IU seniors were named homecoming royalty during halftime of Saturday’s Homecoming football game. The title came with a scepter and a sash.

Sample, a marketing major from Jasper, Indiana, said she felt grateful to be named Homecoming royalty.

“Having the honor of being recognized in front of literally a whole entire stadium is really cool,” she said.

She said being Homecoming royalty is away she can leave her mark on campus. Sample said at a freshmen ceremony at the Kelley School of Business, the school’s dean spoke about the students creating a legacy for themselves at IU.

Sample said she created her legacy through a club she and her friend started: Royal Encounters. Members of the club dress up as princesses or superheroes and visit children at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

Sample said she dresses up as Cinderella when she visits the hospital with other club members. She remembers meeting a girl named Lindly, who was in a wheelchair and had trouble communicating. Sample sang “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” for her.

“Afterward, she gave me such a big hug, and it was really special,” Sample said.

Sample said she’s looking forward to taking in all the lasts of her college experience.

“Last Homecoming, last home tailgate, last fall concert for Singing Hoosiers,” she said.

Sample said she has no regrets about her time at IU so far, from starting the Royal Encounters club, to joining the Singing Hoosiers, to studying abroad in Spain for a semester.

“The four years I’ve spent here have been absolutely amazing, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” Sample said.

Szymanski, a math major from Crown Point, Indiana, said this Homecoming was particularly exciting for band members because there were two Marching Hundred members on the court — Szymanski and senior Noah Scibbe. Band members wore buttons with Szymanski’s and Scibbe’s faces on them attached to their hats at the game.

“The band was extra involved this year,” Szymanski said.

Szymanski said she felt happy and proud to be named Homecoming royalty.

“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “I’ve loved IU since I was in middle school.”

The first time Szymanski visited IU, she was 12 years old and in sixth grade, accompanying her sister on a college visit. It was December, and snow covered the ground. The Indiana Memorial Union was decorated with wreaths, holiday lights and poinsettias.

“It felt like the most festive, coziest building I’d ever been in,” Szymanski said.

From then on, Szymanski came back to campus multiple times to visit her two older sisters.

“I would come back a little bit older, a little bit changed, and it kind of felt I was growing up with IU,” she said.

Szymanski said she has mixed feelings about being a senior.

“Sometimes, I feel sad that it’s coming to an end, but other times, I just feel grateful and nostalgic that these past three years have been so special already,” she said.

Szymanski said she’s looking forward to finishing her senior year. She has a goal of trying all of the restaurants on Fourth Street. Her favorite is Siam House.

“I think Bloomington has been a great place to spread my roots and grow," she said. "but now I’m ready to see what’s outside Bloomington and explore some of the doors IU has opened for me."

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