COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As Ohio State University celebrated The ‘Shoe’s 100th birthday, the Buckeye community witnessed another milestone: Two women were crowned homecoming royalty.

Both Shayna Kling, a fourth-year psychology student, and Kelsey Lowman, a fifth-year in political science and women’s gender and sexuality studies, accepted the student-nominated designation in awe while donning scarlet and gray on the 50-yard line during Ohio State’s homecoming football game against Rutgers Saturday afternoon.

“It was really empowering for me, especially to be surrounded by my Ohio State community who I’ve learned from and I’ve grown with and who have honestly made me have the opportunity to serve on court and to advocate at Ohio State,” Lowman said. “So it was truly a culmination of my entire lived experience as a Buckeye.”

The 20 court members – hailing from as near as Lewis Center to as far as Nanjing, China – were selected based on “their leadership qualities, spirit, integrity, and achievement through their contributions and involvement at Ohio State,” according to the university’s website.

Ohio State students had the ultimate say in who came out victoriously, each having the opportunity to submit two votes for homecoming royalty, the university’s website said.

Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson (left) smiles with the 2022 homecoming court royalty, Shayna Kling (middle) and Kelsey Lowman (right) as the Buckeyes prepared to take on Rutgers on Saturday, Oct. 1. (Courtesy Photo/Maeve Walsh)

Like her fellow Court members, Kling, of Cincinnati, kept herself busy over the past few years of her Ohio State career, she said. From leading prospective students as a university tour guide to singing with the Jewish Acappella group Meshuganotes, she said winning royalty distinction was a reminder of all she’s accomplished at Ohio State.

“It’s just crazy to think of my freshman self like having to adjust to Ohio State, not knowing what’s going on, and then being here now as a senior and almost done with my OSU experience — just being really proud of myself for all that I accomplished here,” Kling said.

Lowman, of Hudson, served in a number of student organizations, including as a member of the senior honorary society SPHINX and chair of the University Senate’s Council on Student Affairs. With a job on campus, Lowman said she advocated for increased wages for student workers at the university.

As for post-graduation plans, Kling said she’s been applying for programs where she can teach English abroad, hopefully in a Spanish-speaking country.

Homecoming court members championed a variety of causes, soliciting funds for a favorite scholarship, non-profit or other groups of their choice, Kling and Lowman said.

Kling’s study abroad experience in Sevilla, Spain, inspired her to dedicate the money to Ohio State’s various study abroad scholarships available to students, as the hefty price tags on spending a semester abroad are not accessible to every student.

ABOVE: Homecoming royalty Shayna Kling and Kelsey Lowman on what the day meant for them.

“It was incredibly life-changing that I got to step outside my Ohio State bubble and travel and meet people and expand my language abilities to communicate with another country in the world, so my fund is for study abroad scholarship so that other students are able to continue that opportunity,” she said.

Lowman encouraged Buckeye fans to donate to Student Life Student Advocacy’s Margaret Bush endowed fund, an emergency fund launched by Ohio State during the COVID-19 pandemic to help relieve the financial burden that hit many students. Lowman also plugged the Abortion Fund of Ohio “to ensure people have the access to the comprehensive health care they need,” she said.

Both Kling and Lowman reminisced on the beginning of their Ohio State experiences — a nerve-wracking transition to one of the largest universities in the U.S. that wasn’t always easy, they said. But they encouraged future and current students to take every opportunity they get, practice patience, and most importantly, “just take in every second,” Kling said.

“Take advantage of the resources Ohio State has to offer,” Lowman said. “Always pursue justice and pursue an improved Ohio State — a more accessible, equitable Ohio State for your community. Be an advocate for yourself as well.”