Each year, two students who show exemplary Hawkeye spirit are selected to represent the University of Iowa’s student body as its Homecoming king and queen.
Those two students are chosen not by election, but through a process that includes a written application, reference letters, and an interview. Candidates are considered for the honor based on their leadership, scholarship, and service, as well as their enthusiasm for the university.
This year, seniors Wei Du, a finance and accounting major from Jinan, China, and Kevin Velovitch, a finance and management major from Noblesville, Ind., were chosen to wear the crowns.
Du’s university involvement has included leadership positions in Business Student Ambassadors, Delta Sigma Pi, and Dance Marathon; working as an international student orientation small group leader and a student assistant in the Tippie College of Business’ Undergraduate Program Office; and membership in Tippie’s competitive Hawkinson Institute of Business Finance.
“Wei really stood out to us because of her great attitude and the impact she has made at Iowa, excelling even after overcoming a language barrier,” says Kayla Sproul, the 2011 Homecoming Council honors director.
Velovitch has spent two years as president of Hawks Nest, the official student section of Hawkeye athletics; has held leadership positions in Alpha Kappa Psi and College Republicans; and volunteered with various community groups.
“Kevin has an absolute devotion to Iowa,” Sproul says.
The newly appointed royalty took some time to talk with fyi about Homecoming, their love for Iowa, and their plans for the future.
What does it mean to you to be the Homecoming queen/king?
Du: I had never really thought about Homecoming before coming here. I’m from China, and we have something similar, but it’s not as big of a deal. Once I learned about it, I thought it would be really cool to be part of the history, part of the whole thing, representing Iowa. I absolutely love my college. I love the university. I’ve told my parents multiple times that I made the best choice by coming here. I feel like as Homecoming Queen, I am representing the growing population of international students and Iowa’s appreciation for diversity.
Velovitch: I think it’s an incredible honor that recognizes the work we’ve done on campus to make a difference and bring positive change to this great university. I’ve been a Hawkeye fan my entire life, and attending the University of Iowa is truly a dream come true.
What was the most memorable moment of your Homecoming weekend?
Velovitch: Honestly, it was having my family come to town. My parents, my grandma, my aunt and uncle, my cousin-in-law and my goddaughter and her sister… They all came in for the parade and the coronation ceremony, and my parents stayed for the football game on Saturday. That meant a lot to me to have them all here together for the first time in four years of college.
Du: Being on the football field was really, really exciting. I’ve never been very close to the field at football games, let alone on the field. Walking out there and being introduced to 70,000 people at the game…it was absolutely incredible.
What do you like most about being a student at Iowa?
Du: I think it’s the energy. I’m restless. I like to be a part of something bigger, and get involved with things beyond academics. There’s always so much going on here, you’ll never get bored. Sometimes there are so many options of things to do, I don’t know what to choose. I guess that’s a good dilemma!
Velovitch: I love all the opportunities that are here. You have to actively pursue them, but the University of Iowa sets you up for incredible success if you are willing and motivated to take on challenges. The professors are wonderful. The career development is great. The university really has a well-rounded plan to make sure that you are going to leave here prepared and ready for your next step in life.
Tell us about one activity you’ve been involved with at Iowa that’s had a big impact on you.
Du: My proudest experience at Iowa is serving as president of the Business Student Ambassador Organization. I joined in the spring of my first year because I really liked the idea of communicating with prospective students about my experience at Iowa. I ran for a position right away—vice president of special events—because I like organizing activities and working with people. Our organization has a very focused function of recruiting for Tippie, but we’ve been trying to expand our scope with events that are not just for prospective students, but also will benefit students who have already been admitted to the college. Last year we initiated and worked with nine other student organizations to put together an international business fair. Being elected president was an incredible honor that showed that everyone is recognizing my work and they believe I can lead the organization to be even better than it already is.
Velovitch: I became president of Hawks Nest at end of my sophomore year, when the organization was in its first year. It had lots of potential, but there was a lot of work that needed to be done, including getting buy-in from administrators and athletic directors. In the last two years we’ve grown so much. We organized bus trips to away games, worked with SCOPE to produce Hawkapalooza, and more. The organization was the perfect fit for me—I love the UI and the Hawkeyes and working to increase student spirit and opportunities to support our athletes really means a lot.
What are your plans after graduation?
Velovitch: On the Tuesday of Homecoming week, I accepted a job offer from Accenture as a business analyst within its consulting workforce. I’ll start in May and I’ll be based in Milwaukee. With the skills I’ve learned through the past four years of classes and student organization involvement, I think the consulting role is going to be a great fit.
Du: This is actually my third year in college. I am finishing my two majors in three years and will walk in May. Next fall, I will start the Master of Accountancy Program at Tippie, and I plan to take CPA and CFA exams shortly after graduation. I want to work in the financial industry, and I would like to start as an analyst in an investment bank. It’s really a fast-paced industry, but I like the energy and I want to get the maximum learning experience in the first few years of my career.