Raegan Rushing, a senior industrial engineering major from Biloxi, Mississippi, has won Mississippi State University's 2022 Homecoming Queen.
Rushing has been involved in a multitude of organizations during her years at MSU and has held a variety of positions within them.
She has served as Phi Mu sorority president, assistant director of programming of the Student Association cabinet, a director of Freshman Forum, an orientation leader and a member of the Society of Women Engineers.
MSU has always been a presence in Rushing's life, but it was not until her junior year of high school that she was sold on the university.
She attended spring preview day, accompanied by her mother and grandmother. What stood out to her were the small acts of kindness she encountered over the course of the day.
"I think it’s so neat how Mississippi State brings together so many different people in all types of ways and creates a lifelong family out of the students here," Rushing said.
Rushing said she knew MSU was something special, and she experienced the feeling of being called to a particular university for the first time.
She said she had always hoped that she would be in a position that would grant her the opportunity to run for Homecoming Queen.
During the two-week-long campaign, Rushing would drag her wagon onto the Drill Field and campaign from early in the morning until late in the afternoon.
Her main goal was to meet as many members of the MSU student body as possible. She handed out candy and listened to everyone's stories about why they personally chose MSU.
Rushing was still very much on-the-fence about the campaigning, but she had many voices encouraging her to keep going.
Sophie Bellew, a senior majoring in educational psychology, was one of these voices urging her to continue despite the stresses and anxieties of the campaign.
"I was like, 'Raegan, you're such a light on campus. Whatever the outcome is, you've touched people. You've touched lives being here and just being a positive face,'" Bellew said.
In terms of assisting Rushing in her campaign, Bellew did a little bit of everything: tabling every day, working on banners and finding more girls to join the team.
Anna Nash, a senior civil engineering major, would drive Rushing around from chapter to chapter on Greek Row during Monday night meetings to talk about her campaign. Nash viewed herself as playing more of a moral support role than anything else.
Rushing's campaign philanthropy of choice was Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. She focused on raising money for its upcoming walk on Oct. 29 in Pearl, Mississippi.
This particular philanthropy is a personal one to Rushing, as her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. Rushing said she wanted to choose a charity that was important to her on a deeper level. She believed breast cancer awareness should be talked about more among college students.
Rushing said she was touched by all of the students who approached her on the service day portion of the campaign and told her their own familial experiences with breast cancer.
Rushing, Bellew, Nash and many others gathered on the Drill Field at the conclusion of the voting period for the final results.
Bellew, standing right beside Rushing, was the first person to receive a hug from the newly-announced homecoming queen. In Bellew's eyes, Rushing winning homecoming queen was physical proof that all of the connections Rushing had made over the course of her campaign were genuine.
Immediately after the announcement, the students began to sing the MSU alma mater.
"We were standing there, singing all together – people I didn't know and people I knew with arms around each other and my legs were shaking. I felt like I couldn't stand up and I was like, 'This is so dramatic. This is not about me,'" Nash said.
As a senior, Rushing has started thinking about what her life will look like post-college. According to Rushing, she has always laughed whenever people ask about her plans after graduation because, as an industrial engineering major, most people expect her to go out into the engineering world. Though, for Rushing, that is not the case.
She said she hoped to pursue a career in higher education by attaining a graduate degree in higher education with a concentration in student affairs. This path had never been on her mind until she came to MSU and discovered new options during her undergraduate years, she said.
Rushing said she hoped to give back to the school that has done so much for her.