An Interview with Miss Homecoming
Morgan Gaston: senior, exercise science student, and now Auburn’s 2017-2018 Miss Homecoming.
Throughout the week of campaigning, her platform focused on reaching out to and connecting with international students to make them feel more like a part of the Auburn family.
We sat down with Morgan to discuss her platform, her role as Miss Homecoming and her own use of The Rec.
Be Well: How often do you frequent The Rec?
Morgan Gaston: I am at every intramural sports game. My team won volleyball last year, and we won basketball this fall. I am very competitive, and I love channeling that through intramurals.
BW: What was the best part of campaign week?
MG: When you campaign, you have to leave the circles you’re used to being in, and in doing that I got to meet incredible people who I would’ve never known. The friendships that were formed was my absolute favorite part.
BW: Why did you choose your platform?
MG: I started learning about social differences through Project Uplift. I work with three kids who live in Opelika in underprivileged homes. Then I went on mission trips to Nicaragua and China. In China, I was very shocked at how welcoming the people were. Not once while I was there did I feel out of place or have a weird transition. I realized that back at home, I could do better. When I came home I joined the International Buddy Program, and through that I saw the struggles that the international students here go through on a daily basis.
BW: Tell us about your buddy with the International Buddy Program.
MG: My buddy is from China, and she’s so great. But she has struggled making friends here, especially American friends, and is even considering transferring after I graduate. She really opened my eyes to how hard it can be for international students to get to know and befriend domestic students.
BW: Why should students care about your platform?
MG: Through ignoring international students, we’re missing out on something we don’t even know we’re missing out on. We’re missing out on hearing different perspectives, getting to know someone’s story and the beauty of helping someone come to love your country.
BW: How can we better reach out to international students?
MG: The Haley Center has signs posted on the bulletin board advertising international students who want to make an American friend. Also, get involved in their clubs. The International Student Organization has social hours at 4 p.m. every Friday with free food and music. It is a fun and easy way to hang out with international students. International Justice Mission has a lot of international students, and International Buddy Program is always looking for more people. They also love it when domestic students bring them to events. Whether that means bringing them to meetings for organizations we’re involved in, clubs we enjoy, or even movie nights with friends, they love it.
BW: What are you doing with this platform now?
MG: One of the new EMERGE groups actually took on the platform as their philanthropy. I helped the group who presented it as a philanthropic option, and now I’m going to help get it started. Also, Tiger Dining is pairing up with the International Student Organization to make social hours bigger in efforts to make the Friday social hours bigger and more well-known. Auburn Global has received a lot of feedback from international students saying that they don’t feel included and involved on campus, so they’re pushing for organizations to have international liaisons. The goal is to have a Welcome Week specifically with Auburn Global where international liaisons can discuss different organizations with international students.
BW: How do you think The Rec can best help your platform?
MG: One thing that many international boys especially love to do is come here to play basketball or work out. They don’t have this kind of facility in your everyday city or college in other countries, so they come a lot and take advantage of it. If you have an international friend, bring them here. It’s also easy to come to The Rec and ask international students to play basketball. The Rec itself is an opportunity.
We look forward to seeing how Morgan’s platform continues to play out on Auburn’s campus. We encourage you to look for ways to reach out to international students across campus and even here at The Rec. It’s easier than you might think, and you’ll be glad you did.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Jack P.