Get to know the Georgia State Homecoming finalists

Take a tour through Georgia State’s homecoming culture and learn the best way to get the most out of your homecoming week. Photo by Unique Rodriguez and Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

Every year, Georgia State students who are natural-born leaders, passionate, goal-oriented and caring run for the Royal Court. The Royal Court consists of a King, Queen, Prince and Princess who represent the university. Each finalist for the crown has a chance to run a campaign to show their love for the university and how they want their presence to be a positive impact on their community.


Georgia State Royalty Finalists

“I am a star. I can do it,” J’Pierre Bolling, Georgia State Royalty finalist, said as he took the stage at the Homecoming press conference last Tuesday. Bolling, who is a senior and a public health major, encouraged everyone in the audience to repeat and declare those affirmations.

“All of us are stars, we are all special and we are all talented,” he said.

Bolling’s platform for running for the Royal Court is all about helping students address mental health to ultimately become the best version of themselves. The student organization he’s a part of, Standing Together and Reigniting the Stigma (S.T.A.R.), is all about making mental health a priority by repeating positive and truthful affirmations. Bolling has several leadership positions on campus, and his goal is to lead and serve his university in a positive direction.

Caring for mental health among college aged students is crucial. Classes can be difficult, schedules can get overbooked and socializing can be hard. Mariah Johnson, a senior and Georgia State Royalty finalist, also believes taking care of mental health is important and that’s what her platform is about.

During her speech at the Homecoming press conference, Johnson stated how much minds matter and how anyone can accomplish anything if they focus on their mental health. Johnson comes from a family of Panthers, but that’s not the only reason she has a love for Georgia State.

“I was born and raised to bleed blue and white but that’s not why I’m running,” she said. “I’m running because Georgia State has cultivated my professional, academic and personal development in so many ways.”

Lauren Deas, another senior Georgia State Royalty finalist, describes herself as very goal-oriented and has had the goal of becoming a finalist since 2016. Now that Deas’s dream has become her reality, she’s ready to use her platform to represent the school in a positive light.

“I want to use the platform to share with the campus, Atlanta community and abroad that Georgia State should never go unnoticed because our passion to achieve, no matter the circumstances, is influential in the success of the Panther family,” she said.

Deas’s platform is all about inclusion. Her desire to continue to plant I.V.I.E.S. (Inclusion is Vital In Every Success) on Georgia State’s campus is what drives her, since being included through volunteer opportunities is what made her career as a student a success. 

“I believe that everyone has a gift, and inclusion is the way for us to open that gift and understand each other’s purpose,” she said. “I want to spread awareness on how inclusion is what is vital in every success. Georgia State is not our house, it is our home and every home has I.V.I.E.S.”

The last Georgia State Royalty finalist is Aniyah Jones. Jones is a senior, public health major and has several leadership roles including being the secretary of EmpowHER. Her platform is all about rising up. 

“As a Georgia State student, it’s your duty to rise and seek elevation,” she said. “You’re capable of rising above every trial placed before you.”


Blue and White Royalty Finalists

As for the Blue and White Royalty finalists, Sydney Tompkins, a junior, is filled with pride, love and appreciation for her university. Tompkins platform is “Home is Here.”

“I made this place my home after leaving my single mother in Savannah,” she said. “You never know who you could meet, who could change your life or what could change your life. There’s an organization for everyone here, and I want this campaign to encourage students to get out there and join things so they know that this place is home.”

Julian Pineda, Blue and White Royalty finalist and junior, also believes in Georgia State being home and creating a community by including all people. Pineda represents the Latino and LGBTQ community of Georgia State and his campaign is all centered around inclusivity of those groups and all groups as well as self love.

“Self-love is one of the most important aspects in life in order to succeed and be happy,” he said. “I am here to create change and inspire minorities to rise up and become leaders to better represent their communities. I am also here to help those in need with self-love. Remember to be inclusive and spread love.” 

Marque Hill and Takia Tinsley, Blue and White Royalty Finalists, are running a joint campaign and, like Pineda, have a strong belief in inclusivity. Their campaign slogan, “keep the family close and our community closer,” is all about bringing together all students at Georgia State. Hill is a sophomore whose campus involvement is expansive.

Hill is a part of many organizations, such as a Peerless Perfection, the Black Sophmore Society, Tighter Grip and secretary for Phi Beta Sigma. Tinsley is a junior with a political science major and a minor in criminal justice who has a strong belief in inclusive culture at Georgia State.

“Georgia State has a way of including everyone as one. In my family, it wasn’t carried out that way,” Hill said at the Homecoming press conference. “Though we all come from different places, we are all one. I’m very passionate, an advocate for Atlanta and I love Georgia State.”

Tinsley, who used to be commuter and didn’t love or feel so connected to his university, has grown a deep love for his community over the years.

“After commuting, I decided to give State a chance to show me her true colors,” Tinsley said. “As I grew I wanted to become more of a resource to my peers and become an impactful presence on campus.”

Throughout Tinsley’s time here, he’s become a mentor and an ambassador to his community and he believes what makes him special is his care for all people.

“I care about Atlanta, the perimeter and Georgia State. I care about all of you,” he said.


Pounce Royalty Finalist

As for the Pounce Royalty finalist, Kaelyn Williams is the representative for the Atlanta campus. Williams is a freshman with a double major in mass communication and media with a minor in journalism. Her aspirations are to be a polymath in the media by being a TV anchor, TV personality, film director, producer or even an actress.

Born in Syracuse, New York, Willams moved to Atlanta three years ago and she said that Georgia State gives her a sense of home because of all the amazing people she’s met and how the school has pushed her to become more involved.

Students have the opportunity to vote for which candidates they think would serve their university the best. All voting is open this week and the voting ballot is emailed to all Georgia State students. The crowning ceremony will take place on Oct. 5 during the halftime of the Homecoming game.