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Homecoming Queen more than royalty

What a difference 75 years of changes can make.

In 1926, after a scandal involving the campaign for candidate, a cow named “Ohio Maudine Ormsby” was elected Homecoming Queen.

In 2001, controversy is nowhere in evidence. Homecoming Queen Ida Abdalkhani is not only an honors student, a liaison for USG-UCC, and an Honors Peer Mentor, but she still has time to give assistance to those less fortunate.

Several years ago Abdalkhani served food and groceries to many disadvantaged individuals at the Cary Thanksgiving dinner in her hometown of Lima, Ohio. It was then that she truly began to recognize the personal significance in volunteer work.

“One woman came and thanked me for being one of the younger individuals helping out,” Abdalkhani said. “She said ‘Jesus will bless you’ and, while crying, she said ‘God is crying too’ – at that moment I began to cry as well.”

This experience laid the foundation for an ongoing effort to work with those in her community.

While most people get a haircut primarily for appearance purposes, in December 1999 Abdalkhani cut her hair to donate it to cancer patients who needed wigs.

In the past two years she has been involved in the French Host program, Habitat for Humanity and has worked with many students at Ohio State’s Welcome Week.

Abdalkhani, a junior in business marketing and interactive communications, is in her second year at OSU and finds plenty of opportunity to be an active representative for the students.

“I feel incredibly honored to be chosen Homecoming Queen. To have my name announced at the Wisconsin football game and being awarded and honored surrounded by more than 100,000 of the best fans in the world was simply amazing,” Abdalkhani said.

Abdalkhani is in the Sophomore Mirrors Honorary Society, is a “Buckeye Pride” reporter for OSU University Relations, and a member of Alpha Lambda Delta/Phi Eta Sigma.

Since 1912, the university has cherished Homecoming as a tradition started by Varsity “O” after the Michigan football game. Homecoming court is elected after a group of self-nominated individuals send applications to a council, who in return carefully decide the most distinguished men and women for the positions.

This is the first year that Homecoming Queen and King were decided upon strictly by online voting.

“I am glad to see a woman of color elected this year,” said Patricia Cunningham, a senior in sociology and women’s studies. Abdalkhani is of Iranian descent; the first woman of color to be Homecoming Queen was Marlene Owens in 1960.

The Ohio State Homecoming Court has continued to carry on the tradition of a diverse atmosphere with students of various abilities and qualifications.

This year had the largest court with 18 members ranging in various studies from psychology and political science to history and music. Each member belongs to many organizations.

Emeka Onyejekwe belongs to the African Youth League and the Golden Key National Honor Society, and Homecoming King, Eddie Pauline, is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity and president of University Student Government.

The homecoming tradition will carry on each year as an event to promote togetherness within the community.

Festivities are outlets for students to help shape their own identity as well as help others find a place on campus, Abdalkhani said.

Cunningham said Abdalkhani has enriched her life as a peer who is also devoted to being involved and recognizing OSU as a diverse community with many opportunities for students.

Abdalkhani is known amongst her friends for her good spirit and outgoing nature, Sarah Hardy, a sophomore in political science, said. “For Ida, being queen, is not just a crown and a sash, it’s an honor.”

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