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Howder crowned 2017 Homecoming Queen

Wall Fellow Morgan Howder was this year’s homecoming queen. Howder is a communication major with minors in new media and digital culture as well marketing. She also won the Rising Leader of the Year award at the Student Involvement and Leadership (SILA) awards in April. She is an orientation team leader, a resident adviser, a marketing student assistant for Women in Philanthropy and Leadership, and an executive board member of Alpha Delta Pi. She plans to pursue her master’s degree in higher education administration after she graduates from CCU followed by a Ph.D. in educational leadership. Howder aspires to be a vice president of campus life and student engagement at a university. We could not be more proud of Howder, and we look forward to seeing her rise up and continue to make a great impact on her fellow students and the Coastal community.

Q: Where are you from?

I spent the first 10 years of my life in Sacramento and the rest of my life in Huntersville, N.C.

Q: Why did you choose Coastal?

During my senior year of high school, I was getting retested for my learning disabilities and my doctor told me about CCU. She encouraged me to apply because she knew what I was looking for. I have dyslexia, which can make learning hard. I knew with my learning style that I needed a small class size but I really wanted to go to a school that valued tradition. I also wanted to have good sports teams to cheer on. There was no comparison to the way CCU made me feel as soon as I visited the campus. I knew that I would be able to build connections, grow my leadership skills, and get involved at CCU. CCU is truly my happy place. It is my home away from home.  

Q: Tell us a little bit more about your homecoming experience. What did you take away from it?

The homecoming experience really started two weeks earlier for anyone nominated for homecoming court because we had to participate in an interview before we were selected to be on the court. The interview was with faculty and staff from around campus, so it was nice getting to meet them. When Homecoming week finally came around, it was amazing. Monday night at Miss Teal and Bronze, the Homecoming court was announced. At first, there were only six sashes on the stage so they called three nominees for king and three for queen. Next, they brought out two more sashes and gave one to another queen nominee so I thought I didn’t get a nomination. All of a sudden, they called my name, and I was very shocked. There ended up being five queen nominees and three king nominees. We went on stage and accepted our homecoming court sashes and immediately started our campaigning. Kevon and I decided to market ourselves together because we believed it would potentially help us acquire more votes due to our campus involvement. We are really good friends because we served as Orientation leaders together, so it was fun to team up with him again.

Homecoming is such a fun time for students, staff, alumni and community members. Each day, there was an event to attend and participate in, so it was really fun to experience. My favorite Homecoming event this year was the talent show. It is so fun to see students do such amazing things. It was even better this year because my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, and Kappa Alpha Order won first place! I loved watching everyone perform because there are a lot of talented students.

I think this experience helped me gain more confidence in public speaking, interviewing, networking and marketing. At a few of the events, the Homecoming court spoke about why they would be a good representative of CCU. Most of the time when we had to speak it was spur of the moment so it made us think on our feet. I also love interviewing, so having the opportunity to practice interviewing more was helpful. Life is all about networking nowadays, so this opportunity gave me a few different chances to meet professionals, alumni and other students. After I won, I had the opportunity to go the President’s Suite where I was able to watch the second half of the game with President DeCenzo and other professional staff members. It also helped me learn about campaigning because I had to create posters, buttons, hashtags and Snapchat filters to push Ke’von and my name out to the CCU community.

Being crowned Homecoming queen is a memory that is so special to me because it gives me a bigger platform to leave a legacy of love, leadership and passion at CCU. It is such an honor to represent a university that has pushed me to become a better student, leader and community member. I have been blessed with some amazing opportunities here that have helped me find my passion and my future goals. It is so cliché, but CCU is my happy place and being named the 2017 Homecoming queen made it even happier.

Q: Who is your role model/ your inspiration in life?

I would say my little brother is one of my biggest role models and inspiration. I always strive to better myself because I know he is watching me. He is 14 but acts much older than his age. He is smart and so strong. He has had health concerns all of his life but he does not allow the hard times to bring him down. His positivity and carrying heart make him so loveable. He is wise beyond his years and pushes me to be better in every way possible.

Q: Have you read any influential books that have shaped you into the leader you are today that you would like to share with other students?

Stephen C. Lundin, John Christensen and Harry Paul wrote the “The Fish Philosophy.” During my first year of training for Orientation, I read this book. This book completely changed my views on leadership. It talks about four different philosophies to effectively lead groups. The four philosophies are “be there, play, make their day, and have fun.” These four philosophies are extremely different but definitely helped me become a better leader. The idea of “being there” is one that has really come naturally for me. I am a compassionate person who is always present and there for people when they need me. I am an active listener who can sit and listen to and talk about issues with coworkers, strangers and friends. The second idea of the philosophy reminds the readers to play. I think it is important to make sure that my workplace is a somewhere that I can be serious but also laugh. It is important to me that I can play around and build relationships with the people around me. The idea of friendly competition, team-building activities, and making someone’s day excites me. I love praising people for their hard work because it gives them the sense of accomplishment. This book is an easy read but it has a lot of great points in it that help you understand the basics of becoming a great leader.

Q: Do you have any pets?

I have a dog named Oyster. She is a rescue so we don’t know what kind of dog she is, but she’s adorable!

Q: Who is your favorite professor?

I really have loved all of my professors, but Dr. Wes Fondren is truly amazing. His Communication Theory (COMM*275) class really made me fall in love with my major. He really respects his students and truly cares about their success. He teaches more than just the basic information he has to cover. If you ever needed help with anything, Dr. Fondren would be more than willing to assist in any way possible. I love that he is the chair of our department because I believe he is a great leader and will influence the other professors to be more caring.

Q: What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

My family does a gift exchange where we all draw a name from a hat then we buy a real gift, a memory gift, and a funny gift for the person whose name we drew. We have done this ever since I can remember. It is special because the memory gifts are usually very thoughtful and sweet. 

Article courtesy of Kyla Van Graan.