Every October, as the air around us gets crisp and brisk, scented with the aroma of pumpkin spice and cinnamon as the temperatures fall, the college celebrates the return of its alumni with a tradition known as homecoming.Although the football game is at the heart of homecoming festivities, it wouldn’t be the same without the halftime crowning of TCNJ’s Homecoming Queen and King.The titles of Homecoming Queen and King go to people selected as a result of the committee’s selection process and from the results of the school’s student body vote.If you haven’t heard her name by now, Kim Tang was crowned this year’s Homecoming Queen!
As one of the most precious people I’ve met in my time at TCNJ, the best way to celebrate her crowning is to highlight what it meant to her and what means for her going forward.One of the first things I wanted to know when I heard that she was running was what inspired her to run? For most people, Homecoming at TCNJ is very much tied to Greek Life, leaving non-Greeks to feel like it has no place for them. By running, Kim wanted to show that anyone can be active in Homecoming, even if they were not a part of Greek Life.
Kim was sponsored by her organization on campus, the Asian American Association, or Triple A for short, for which she serves as president. The Asian American community is typically not represented in the Homecoming Arena of TCNJ and also doesn’t really pay attention to it. Part of the pull of running for Kim was to get her club’s name out there, making them more known on campus.Since Kim hadn’t really been under the campus-wide spotlight previously, running for Homecoming Queen was an opportunity to get herself out of her comfort zone.
As the president of Triple A, a Community Advisor, and just an overall social person, she thought she could give herself a shot at winning if she did run. She told me throughout the process, her mindset was, “what’s the worst that can happen if I run? I don’t win?” Since she never perceived not winning as the end of the world, she really felt there was nothing to lose by running.I asked Kim what the role of Homecoming Queen meant to her and she reflected on the unique perspective she had. As part of the young alumni programming committee, which comes with the role, Kim said she wants to bring her perspective of a non-Greek, woman of color to promote inclusivity and diversity in how the college engages with its young alumni. She aims to bring a point of view that wonders if the college’s interactions with its young alumni are tailored to those who are white or in Greek Life.
Simply being crowned Homecoming Queen isn’t the end for Kim, I asked her what message she’d like to spread in this role.
In the week since being crowned, Kim has already heard from many people who said they never knew someone could run and win if they weren’t a part of a Greek org. Although Greek Life affords people many opportunities they wouldn’t get if they weren’t a part of it, it is not the only way to be involved on this campus. If you told freshman year Kim this is where she would be in three years, she’d never have believed it was possible. Now that she’s seen that it is, she wants to show others the message that “You can do it!” and empower them to be in spaces they didn’t think they could be a part of, encouraging them to put themselves out there.
This year, even the Homecoming King, Lloyd Padmore, is a Man of Color, as well as someone who is not a part of Greek Life. She felt that it sends a powerful message that both the Homecoming Queen and King are people of color not involved in Greek life, particularly to others like them. In addition to Homecoming, I wanted to know what Kim would look back at most fondly from her time here. She shared with me that her best memories are of the people she’s come to know and the relationships she’s been able to develop through her different involvements, such as with Triple A or with ResEd. Once she graduates, it’s the people she’s going to miss the most, because they’re what made her personal growth possible. I asked Kim what is the most valuable lesson she’s learned in the past 4 years at TCNJ.
“If you don’t put yourself out there and take risks, you’re never going to get what you want.”
Kim reflected on the things she’s involved in, and determined that if she let her nervousness about the competition or about not getting something stop her, she would never be where she is today. Even if applying for CA, or Triple A e-board, or Homecoming didn’t work out, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, because she has no regrets by taking a risk and putting herself out there.