This past Friday at the Mr. Jumbo pageant, Tufts history was made. For the first time a female took the crown and the coveted title of Mr. Jumbo. Senior Bianca Velayo sat down with Her Campus to talk about breaking down the wall and beating the boys.
Where are you from?
I’m from Levittown (on Long Island), NY
What’s your major?
I am a biopsychology major.
Had you been to previous Mr. Jumbo pageant?
No, they actually asked me that in my interview and I hoped they wouldn’t count that against me.
You were the first female Jumbo winner, right?
I believe so, yeah. It was sort of weird because they called it Mr. Jumbo, but there were both male and female contestants competing. I just decided to roll with it.
[Editor’s Note: Since conducting this interview, Bianca has brought to our attention that there has been a Miss Jumbo in the past. We apologize for the mistake, but it’s still pretty great another female won, right?]
Do you think that says anything about changes on campus?
I’m glad to be the first female winner! Regardless of the genders of the competitors, I still think I’d win because I had so much fun with it and I took the talent portion seriously. It’s great that we have a school-wide spirit pageant. Hopefully more females will get involved, and the Spirit Coalition can consider changing the name, which might be what deterred girls from participating in the first place.
What made you decide to be a part of the contest?
I was actually nominated by my friend who thought I’d be entertaining. I was a dancer when I was younger and I missed being on stage so I went for it. I was also excited to participate because my best friend Eugene [Kim], we’re both Crew captains/study buddies, was nominated so we decided to do it together.
Did you know any of the other contestants other than Eugene?
Just Eugene. But getting to know everyone at the rehearsals before the pageant was really great.We all added each other on Facebook after the pageant to solidify our friendships. It was probably the coolest thing I’ve done all year. [pagebreak]
You mentioned that you took the talent portion seriously. What was the inspiration behind your talent?
I’ve been dancing since I was three and I was a cheerleader too. I haven’t done any dance stuff on campus, but I do miss it. I thought the talent portion would be a great way to do something I love doing but haven’t done in a while.
Check out her performance:
What kind of dance did you do?
I did ballet, tap, acrobatics, pointe, kickline and a little bit of hip hop and jazz. [pagebreak]
We like your crown.
Thanks! Yeah, it’s even a male crown! They weren’t giving out tiaras. But it’s okay because I wasn’t really doing it for the prize.
What was your inspiration for the fashion portion?
They were really vague about their instructions for fashion. I originally thought about wearing my crew uniform, but Eugene already told me he was going to do that. So, I decided to take the extreme eveningwear route. My sister came up for the weekend and I asked her to bring up my senior prom dress. Surprisingly, I still fit in it! I also borrowed my friend’s knit jumbo hat to complete the outfit.
We noticed that you had a cheering section at the event. Did you campaign beforehand?
I told all my friends about the competition and they were all very supportive. A lot of the girls on the crew team came, my best friends came, and my sister even came up from NY for the weekend. I printed out signs for them to wave around saying “I <3 Bianca” and “Bianca for Ms. Jumbo”. I thought it was a good idea; I’m surprised more candidates didn’t do that.
The Mr. Jumbo pageant is about school spirit, what’s your opinion on school spirit on campus?
Everyone is really proud to go to Tufts, you can tell, especially because it is such a great institution. But when it comes to attending school events, we fall short. I don’t know how many people really ever attend events like the culture shows or sport home games, but I did notice for the men’s last home basketball game, Zeta Psi hosted a pregame and there was a big turn out at the game. Three members of the basketball team are Zetas and came up with the idea to go big for the last home game. We really need more of those interconnections to encourage more spirit on campus.
What other activities do you do on campus?
I’m captain of the Women’s varsity crew. I also work at Tisch Library at the circulation desk. That’s probably how most people recognize me because I’m the first person you see when you walk in. I was also really involved with the Pre-Dental Society up until this year. I founded it as a sophomore; I served as the President and the Public Relations officer since then.
What would you say is the best part of going to school at Tufts?
For me, it’s the size of the school. It promotes a really tight knit community. You can even feel the connections between the campuses, which is how I got involved with the Tufts Dental community. Tufts presented me with a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten at a larger school. It allows me to be super involved and still get a great education. I wouldn’t have been able to start a club or walk on a varsity sport at a big school. You feel like you can really make a difference in everyday life at Tufts.
What’s the one thing you’re going to miss about Tufts?
I love Tufts! I’m actually attending Tufts Dental School next year (Woo Double Jumbo!). So I won’t really be leaving Tufts. The one thing I’m going to miss is the actual Medford campus, which is why I choice Tufts over some other schools that have an open campus. I feel really safe here and everything I want and need is on campus or in Davis Square.