Eastern Kentucky University’s 2019 Homecoming king and queen both proved that being new on campus doesn’t mean you can’t break barriers and achieve your dreams.
The Colonel community voted seniors Kyle Best and Phaneece Macklin king and queen at the Homecoming game Oct. 5. Macklin is a transfer student who just started at EKU last semester. She has already made a name for herself through her philanthropic work and involvement on campus. Best is not a transfer student, but the organization he represented — the EKU Finance Society — is only about a year old. It is quickly becoming one of the most active student groups in the College of Business and Technology.
Both students said they were honored and surprised to be chosen.
“When I found out I won, I felt an enormous wave of emotion take over my whole body. I was shocked,” Macklin said. She added, “I almost cried walking across the field because this moment was exactly what I had dreamed of a few nights before I was crowned.”
Macklin was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and moved with her family to Louisville, Kentucky, when she was 8. She transferred from the University of Kentucky in Spring 2019, attracted by EKU’s close-knit community and personal support from faculty and staff. She is pursuing a bachelor’s in public health and is set to graduate this semester.
Macklin is the first African American Homecoming queen at EKU since sophomore Marilyn Dabney was elected in 1975, and the first ever to be elected from the Greek community. She was nominated by her sorority, the Eta Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an organization committed to public service and development of its members, with an emphasis on the black community.
“I am very proud of myself, but most importantly, I am proud of my support team. Without my sorority sisters and alums of Eta Rho, National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities, and my mother, aunt and brothers, I don’t think I would have made it this far,” she said. “I am very grateful for every single one of them.”
Best, a senior from Lancaster, Kentucky, is set to graduate in spring with a degree in business management and a minor in banking and financial services. He, a classmate and a faculty advisor founded the EKU Finance Society student group just last year. Most of the Homecoming king candidates represented more established fraternities and organizations with hundreds of members, making Best a longshot.
“Going into it, I felt lucky enough just to be on the court. I was just blessed having the honor to represent EKU in this way, and have a chance to be king,” he said.
However, he was surprised at how many students told him they voted for him after the voting period ended. He then started to believe he had a shot to place in the top three — he would have been thrilled with third place, he said.
“Once they started calling names, they called the third-place and second-place winners, and I thought, ‘Yikes. This isn’t looking good,’” Best said. When the announcer called his name as Homecoming king, “I was just amazed and shocked… I tell everyone I still can’t believe it.”
“God has blessed me with so much here at EKU, and I will always remember the friendships and cherish the memories I’ve made,” he said.
Both Macklin and Best are hardworking and well-known students, maintaining high GPAs while being actively involved on campus and in the community.
Macklin is a treasurer for Delta Sigma Theta, a member of the Black Student Union, a resident advisor in the Grand Campus apartments, a member of the African American Studies Club and a part of the Diversity Leadership Council. She has volunteered at God’s Pantry Food Bank and several Lexington-area hospitals and clinics. After graduation, she plans to earn a master’s in public health at EKU and pursue her passion for helping others better their lives physically, mentally and emotionally.
Aside from his status as co-founder of the EKU Finance Society, Best is a member of the Phi Beta Lambda professional organization, Campus Outreach, Patterson Business Scholars, the Marketing Club, and was part of the Student Alumni Ambassadors, Cru and the Baptist Campus Ministry. He has also earned a number of scholarships, placed first in two categories of the Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference competitions and volunteered with the local Humane Society. He has worked as a bank teller at First Southern National Bank for over 2 ½ years.
Before he graduates, Best plans to continue to make a difference on campus and grow the EKU Finance Society. The student organization is planning events such as job fairs, stock investment challenges, and trips to the Federal Reserve and Cincinnati Reds games. Any student from any program who is interested in joining can contact Best at email@example.com.
Macklin noted that, in a college career full of accomplishments, transferring to EKU and being crowned Homecoming queen “will forever be an honor and hold the biggest place in my heart.”
“I came to EKU with an open heart and mind and accomplished everything I said I was going to do and more,” she said. “God has blessed me abundantly this semester, and I’ll continue to succeed in every way possible as long as He allows me to.”