Homecoming Court

2019 Homecoming Court Candidates 

Tyler Blankinship
Virginia Tech Union

Though Virginia Tech has made efforts to become more accessible over the years, much of our campus is very hard to navigate for people with physical disabilities. After getting selected for Court, I had a leg injury and needed to walk with a cane for two weeks and really learned first hand how much work needs to further improve our campus. My goal is to raise awareness of this issue that many students never have to think about and to keep accessibility as a priority for our school administration until our entire campus is adequately accessible for all students.


Samantha Bond
Student Alumni Associates 

The media constantly tells us that we are not good enough as we are, and that we need to look a certain way to be considered beautiful or worthy. The purpose of this platform is to help people of all ages regain their sense of self-worth and learn how to love themselves in the midst of social media negativity.


Harry Diamond
Delta Sigma Phi

Crohn’s disease and Colitis disease are diseases I feel have not had enough light shed on them recently. Growing up, I had a younger relative of mine experience Crohn’s disease and seeing what he was able to overcome (and still is overcoming) motivated me to want to get the word out for this auto-immune disease. I think this is a great way to spread information and bring awareness to this disease in a way that can bring us closer to a cure.


Rachael Donnelly
Alpha Chi Omega

Individuals of all ages with differing abilities are often over-looked within their communities. This phrase of “differing abilities” positively highlights these individuals who fall under the umbrellas of Special Needs and, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. They are not less than, rather present different abilities that deserve to be included, integrated and respected in society.

Sam Dickerson

As Hokies, it is our job to create a better community for others on this campus and for those who will come to Virginia Tech in the future. While this community is extremely welcoming to all new Hokies, many incoming freshmen battle to acclimate to the new environment of college. This often lends to struggles with their mental health. I believe a fantastic way to combat this issue is by forming an organization that will annually enter local high schools and provide mental health informational assemblies to upperclassmen before they make the transition to college. This approach could create an immediate impact on Virginia Tech and other universities across the nation as well as affecting change for years to come.

Leah Hendershot
Delta Delta Delta

Virginia Tech offers a program called ”Safe Ride.” However, the program currently only runs on Virginia Tech’s campus and to the Math Emporium on University City Boulevard. The Virginia Tech community needs a program that will allow students who feel like they are in unsafe or uncomfortable situations to get a reliable and safe ride home. The goal of my platform is to create an overall safer environment at Virginia Tech and expand the Safe Ride program while promoting its use. Many other large universities already have programs similar to this and I think that with the lack of a program, we are failing to follow through on our “No Hokie Left Behind” motto.

Ryan Gahman
Chi Alpha

It has been proven through rigorous study and personal testimony that pornography has harmful individual and societal effects. Pornography affects a user’s brain much like an addictive drug causing a dependency cycle. It also devalues people, objectifies sex and prevents us from understanding the intricacies of sacrificial and compassionate relationships. And finally, pornography has direct links toward stimulating human trafficking by creating demand and through the content itself. The aim of the platform is to bring awareness to these harmful effects and give students the resources to stop consuming pornography altogether.


Alexi Henderson
Chi Delta Alpha

Virginia Tech is an institution that prides itself on its Principles of Community and diversity, but students, faculty, and staff of color can often feel unheard. We as Hokies need to be able to step outside of our comfort zone to address racism and support everyone in our community.

Rouselle Ligon
Men's Rugby

Often, particular outdoor recreation (OR) activities like kayaking or camping and outdoor education (OE) are inaccessible to children that belong to lower socioeconomic groups or minorities. OR and OE play an integral role in development as they expose children to new challenges and allow them to become more in touch with their environment.


Tam Hoang
Vietnamese Student Association

Children of Vietnam is a non-profit organization that focuses on serving children and families in Vietnam who are stifled by poverty. They serve through providing education, mending bodies, sheltering families, and nurturing their development. Specifically, COV concentrates on creating strong programs for children with disabilities, single-parent homes, and families in rural/ethnic minorities. COV is an organization that I care about deeply and I am excited for the opportunity to work with COV to help bring awareness to these injustices and create a global impact!


Brandon Motherway
Delta Psi Nu

The 2016 statistic of LGBTQ+ Virginians applied to the student count of Virginia Tech shows about 2,000 students enrolled who also identify with this community, not including closeted students. Everything Under the Rainbow will double as a benefit concert and an educational space celebrating the pride movement and spreading the love.

Julia Morris
Alpha Phi

Many people in the United States are affected by loss related to military involvement. Many veterans suffer from disabilities after serving such as PTSD, learning to cope with lost limbs, or more. Families like mine who have suffered the loss of a family member are rarely given resources to recover from their loss. My hope is that with the implementation of my platform, veterans and their families can feel supported and their loss can be empathized. I also wish to provide support organizations that are devoted to helping this cause.


Sal Parente
Delta Chi

Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year, and it is predicted that nearly 1 million people will be living with Parkinson’s by the year 2020. Currently there is no cure for this terrible disease and very limited ways to slow the onset of the disease. Parkinson’s Disease affects so many people and most people have a very limited understanding of the disease and its effects on people. Though running for Homecoming Court and planning and carrying out my event I hope to educate the Virginia Tech community more on what Parkinson’s is and how it affects people. Through this education process I hope to raise money too to help go towards research for a cure.


Kate Revels
Kappa Delta 

Everyone defines confidence in their own unique way but together we can learn to embrace these differences and share our confidence in a positive way. Capturing confidence with Kate focuses on helping students instill confidence in both their strengths and weaknesses through mental and physical encouragement.

Diego Sabugo
Sigma Phi Epsilon 

The focus of my platform is to spread the conversation of mental health within our community and to highlight a serious issue that is happening not just here in Blacksburg, but in communities across America. As young adults it is crucial, now, to understand what role mental health has in our lives and in the lives of those around us. There may be people we pass in public who are deeply hurting, we must support our fellow Hokie. We must understand that the struggle with anxiety and depression doesn’t have to be fought alone. Tomorrow is always a new day.

Desiree Velez
Latin Link

Although many of us are blessed enough to not be experiencing the destruction that is being created by the changes in our environment, we are not free of responsibility of taking care of our Earth. Being from  the Caribbean, I have seen the effects of human consumption and waste affect the island that I have called my second home for all my life, Puerto Rico. After seeing my motherland ripped apart as a result of the devastating effect humankind has on our environment, I came to the realization that something needs to change. We cannot hope to enact real change and counter environmental shifts without first educating our community on the reality of this topic. As our LatinX community says, “Mientras más aprendemos más caridad tenemos y con más caridad viene el cambio.” With knowing comes caring and with caring comes change.


2018 Homecoming King and Queen Ryan Niblock and Katherine DiDonato


Organization: Alpha Delta Pi Major: Interior design Hometown: Malvern, Pennsylvania Platform: Kicking Cancer with Katherine. I am excited to use my personal experiences to shed light on the impacts of pediatric cancer with the surrounding community and to help further research, care, and quality of life for pediatric cancer patients.

Organization: Alpha Delta Pi
Major: Interior design
Hometown: Malvern, Pennsylvania
Platform: Kicking Cancer with Katherine. I am excited to use my personal experiences to shed light on the impacts of pediatric cancer with the surrounding community and to help further research, care, and quality of life for pediatric cancer patients.

Organization: GERMAN Club
Major: Multimedia journalism
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
Platform: Not Alone with Niblock. The focus of my platform is to eliminate the stigma of mental health by fostering an environment that encourages openness and vulnerability in a safe space. The key is to educate not only those who struggle with mental health as college students (i.e. anxiety and depression), but to educate the community on how to best reach out to those struggling to make sure nobody has to go through the battle of mental health alone.