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Your 2016 USFSP Homecoming Court

It’s that time of year again when school spirit hits its peak. The air gets a few degrees cooler (or we can dream it does, right?), attendance rises at football games, and the pride of green and gold t-shirts starts to spread around campus as preparations and advertising for homecoming get most of the student body excited. Homecoming week starts October 3rd, with their kickoff event- “Night at the Bay.” On Tuesday October 4th, the “Midnight Masquerade” will take place, and this year’s crowned Homecoming King and Queen will be announced at the dance. In order to get to know this year’s homecoming candidates, I have put together some tidbits about each of them that they have shared, in order for you to become more familiar with whom you are voting for. 

Photo courtesy of Laraine Ruiz

First up is Laraine Ruiz for Homecoming Queen. She is a junior, majoring in business management with a minor in psychology. Laraine is holding the current leadership title of Acting Student Body President, and she ran for court because the Homecoming Queen & King are the epitome and embodiment of Bull Pride. Laraine is looking forward to the Cardboat Race because it is currently one of USFSP’s oldest traditions and she loves seeing clubs, organizations and university departments come to together in a fun and competitive way.

“[It] would be honor and privilege to represent USFSP on the Homecoming Court next to the other leaders from Tampa and Sarasota-Manatee. I love this campus. I love our university. I love being a Bull. Once A Bull Always A Bull.”


Photo courtesy of Justice Thornton

Justice Thornton is a current senior, majoring in biology and minoring in education. Justice currently holds the leadership positions of Orientation Leader, Peer Coach, Student Assistant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Executive Director for the Multicultural Activities Council. Justice is running for court because she is truly passionate about USFSP and its students, and she is most excited to attending all of the Homecoming events and having a good time for her last homecoming at USFSP.

“I’ve been very adamant about giving back just as much, if not more, all that USFSP has given to me. I have had so many wonderful opportunities to grow in so many areas of my life, as a student, leader, and woman. The past three years have been nothing short of amazing and the experiences have left me with a wealth of knowledge on the campus’ culture and the plan for our future. I really want to be a part of representing the campus’ unique identity that sets us apart from the other USF Campuses but also represent all of the ways that unify us as a USF system.”


Photo courtesy of Emily Harris

Emily Harris is a senior majoring in economics. She currently holds the leadership position of Treasurer for PEERS and in the past has held positions of Senior Vice President, Marketing Chair, and Professional Events Chair for Delta Sigma Pi. Emily is most looking forward to the Cardboard Boat Race and participating with her team from the Financial Aid Office for the first time in this event.

“I want to show my fellow students that their ideal college experience is achievable. That their dreams for success at USFSP can come true, their voice is heard, and they are a valuable part of our Bull family. Holding the position would allow me more visibility to announce these sentiments, be a model for student success, and lead by example.”


Photo courtesy of Skyler Kulesa

Skyler Kulesa is a senior majoring in Marketing. She loves photography, and is mostly looking forward to the Cardboard Boat Race this year. She holds the leadership position of Dance Morale Team Captain for Dance Marathon spring 2017, works for the USC, and is involved with Alpha Phi Omega.

“From working with Cynthia Wyre, I have seen how being Homecoming Queen has given Cynthia the chance to give back to the school. USFSP has helped me not only intellectually, but also as a person and I would like the chance to give back for the opportunities that have been presented to me.

Photo courtesy of Juan Salazar

Juan Salazar is a senior with a major of psychology and minors of leadership and entrepreneurship. His leadership involvement is not limited to but includes past and current positions in Student Government, Ambassadors, Harborside Activities Board, Orientation Leader, Peer Coach, and Alpha Phi Omega.

“I chose to run for Homecoming King, because it was my last year, and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and ultimately it would be an honor to be Homecoming King.”

Photo courtesy of Richie Marini

Richie Marini is a junior double majoring in mass communications and political science. Richie holds the leadership positions of Navigator Tour Guide, Peer Coach, and Senate Committee on Appropriations Chair. He is looking forward to the Homecoming Concert in Tampa.

“In my time here at USF St. Petersburg, I feel that I have been impacted by the campus community. All of my success, these past two years, has come from the dedication and support of my professors, advisors, and peers. I decided to run because I want to continue to represent a university that has given me so much.”

Photo courtesy of Pablo Herrera

Pablo Herrera is a junior with a major of Health Science and a minor of education. He holds the leadership positions of Resident Assistant (Housing & Residence Life), Building Manager (University Student Center), Academic & Social Mentor (Project 10 STINGRAY) and Campus Navigator (Office of Orientation). He is looking forward to the Midnight Masquerade Ball, and something random about him is that he rates his friends’ burps on a scale of 1-10.

“My gratitude towards this institution and the amazing students that have made a difference my life persuaded me to pursue this honor. Through every position I hold on campus, I express my passion for USFSP and serve as a face and a resource to students, faculty, staff, potential students, and members of the St. Petersburg community. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for my experiences here at USFSP.


Photo courtesy of Albert Moreno III

Albert Moreno III is a graduating senior this semester. He is an English Major minoring in Mass Communications, and in the spring he will be starting his first semester of grad school (Masters of Liberal Arts) here at USFSP. He holds the leadership positions as a senator in student government as well as a secretary for the Student Veterans Organization. Something that people may not know about Albert is that at 17 years old, he joined the Army to join the US Olympic Track and Field team.

“My motivation for running for homecoming king is to represent the student body in an untraditional manner. I am a 30-year-old commuting student that is a single father. Seeing that a majority of our student body is comprised of commuting students, most of which don’t have the opportunity to participate in school events, or are just uninformed about how to participate, I want to be an example that hopefully prompts more students to become involved in campus activities. To be honest, I’ve never done the Homecoming thing before, so all of this is new to me. If I could hope for anything during Homecoming week, it would be to see many unfamiliar faces participating and enjoying the week-long festivities and celebrations.”

Photo courtesy of Jordan Palavra

Last but not least, Jordan Palavra is a senior majoring in Accounting. Organizations that he has held executive positions include: The Black Student Association as President, The USFSP Ambassadors as Vice President of Connections, The Harborside Activities Board as Stage Acts Director, and Multicultural Activities Council as Cultural Chair. He is looking forward to meeting new people during homecoming by being present at all of the events. Something interesting about Jordan is that he is Cape Verdean and speaks Portuguese.

“To be Homecoming King is not just another title for me, it holds deeper meaning. This is an opportunity for me to be a conduit between USFSP and the rest of the USF system and portray what the USFSP culture is all about. I believe that I truly understand and can represent USFSP because of the amount of time I have been involved, which has allowed me to interact with diverse organizations and more importantly the individuals that run them.”  

Hope you all enjoyed reading about these interesting people, and I wish them good luck in running for Homecoming Court! Go make your vote count here: https://orgsync.com/63009/forms/217823


Hayley Garron



Hayley Nicole Garron is a student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, currently majoring in Journalism. She has passions of reading, writing, playing soccer, shopping, and doing things for others, and she aspires to to gain her fame by creating a novel so amazing you won't want to put it down. In her spare time, she can be found watching YouTube videos, writing her blog, "This is why I'm Haute," or trying new DIY's found on pinterest. USFSP has been a great influence to help her find more of herself in growing up.
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