The realization that she won may never kick in.
It certainly didn’t in the moment or in the days following the announcement at WVU’s Homecoming football game.
“Whenever they announced Homecoming queen, they kind of took a really long pause before they said my name,” said Teresa Hoang, WVU’s 2019 Homecoming queen. “So whenever they finally said it, I was still in a moment of shock, but my mom was right next to me, and she screamed like bloody murder.”
Now, as Homecoming queen, Hoang walks through campus and people she has never seen or spoken to before approach her. Some congratulate her on the honor and others say how awesome of an accomplishment it is.
“It’s in those moments that I really have settled into the idea of it,” Hoang said. “Sometimes I’ll just be wandering around campus, and I’ll forget, and I don’t think it’s ever gonna truly set in, like the magnitude that is this honor.”
Hoang, a senior computer science student, is also a member of the WVU Student Government Association. She has been involved with SGA since starting at WVU, which she believes was beneficial in her pursuit of Homecoming queen.
“I have been in student government my entire college career, I’ve gone through three different student government campaigns, so I feel like I was pretty prepared going into it,” Hoang said. “I knew how to lay out a campaign plan and my friends helped me come up with my graphic.
“I knew that one of the most important things was branding, just to keep everything consistent across the campaign.”
With social media being so integral in the lives of college students, Hoang made sure to focus on the online aspect of her campaign, but wanted to ensure face-to-face contact as well.
This included handing out grilled cheese sandwiches on campus, which ended in Hoang explaining to an international student who had never had one before how to make it.
“We were relying on having these genuine conversations with people as they walked by, and they saw how we could connect with them,” the Hurricane, West Virginia, native said. “And seeing if I was to win Homecoming queen, how would I be able to represent you and make WVU a better campus.”
The ability to represent individuals and better the community she’s part of is also what motivated her to run in the first place.
“For me, a lot of it was rooted from my family and my friends that thought I was a very good representation of the school, but, ultimately, I decided to run for Homecoming queen because I think I have a very unique Mountaineer story,” Hoang said.
After being born in Seattle, Hoang moved to Hurricane in the third grade — an area she described as being “predominantly white.” Although she never felt discriminated against, she said she wasn’t represented in the community due to being Vietnamese American.
This changed when she went to WVU.
“I came to WVU, and I met people of all different backgrounds. All who had a pride that I never had for my culture,” Hoang said. “And I was welcomed into this community of people who just wholly embraced their identities and their backgrounds, and welcomed me with open arms and taught me to love my culture and my passions, and everything about myself.”
She not only wants to showcase diversity at WVU, but she wants to help people explore the different opportunities available to them at WVU, too. Specifically, as Homecoming queen, Hoang wants to help students bridge the gap between classroom and professional experience because of the help she has received while in school, which she hopes will reduce much of the anxiety around the process.
“I’m just eternally grateful for WVU for that experience and everything it’s given me,” Hoang said. “Running for Homecoming queen was one of the ways that I thought that I would be able to amplify my sphere of influence and kind of share my story to people who don’t get that perspective.”