University students grace

by Nicole Vulcan

Life is a whirlwind when you’re the Queen of Snows.
Such is the case for Martha Hill, a University student crowned Friday as Queen Aurora of the annual St. Paul Winter Carnival. The 22-year-old nursing student has spent much of the week on a bus, traveling everywhere from nursing homes and elementary schools to parades for appearances.
And that’s not all. Hill will continue her reign as queen long after the snow has melted, making appearances in parades across the continent throughout the summer.
She shares the throne with Pat McCullough, a St. Paul attorney and cattle rancher who was selected as the carnival’s King Boreas Rex.
The entire royal family, which includes University students Felice Harper as Princess of the South Wind and Erica Halter as Princess of the West Wind, will travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba this weekend. The group will also visit Florida in March and Georgia in April.
Hill is a resident assistant at Comstock Hall, but has had little time to spend on her duties since the Winter Carnival began. In addition, she has taken a leave of absence from the School of Nursing until spring quarter.
“School is a Monday through Thursday commitment, and (the carnival) is a weekend commitment,” Hill said. To juggle both, “it takes some time-management skills.”
Studying and representing St. Paul has been a challenge for Harper and Halter as well. In spite of this, the three students have found a lot of support from their community to participate.
In fact, participants must be sponsored by someone in the community even to be considered for the honors of royalty. Hill was sponsored by her parents, Harper, by Fabulous Fern’s Restaurant in St. Paul, and Halter, by Ameripride Linen and Apparel, in Minneapolis.
“I think that the University professors know that this is a community-building project, so they have all been supportive,” said Harper. “I am glad to be in the position I’m in, as a representative of the city.”
However Harper, a double major in biology and technical communications, will probably have to postpone an externship scheduled at 3M for the summer in exchange for the commitments she has newly acquired.
Halter too will have to spend less time focusing on her journalism/public relations major in exchange for the time she will spend as Princess.
The process of selecting the winners is somewhat complex. “It’s basically like a pageant,” said Amy Cocchiarella, royal family coordinator for the carnival.
But unlike other pageants, most of the candidates for the carnival pageant have never participated in one before. Hill sat on the 1997 University Homecoming court; Harper was Homecoming queen in high school.
After two initial interviews, “(The Queen) is chosen on her speaking abilities, ability to socialize well with the public, her presentation and volunteer activities,” commented Cocchiarella.
The royal family is chosen each year by a selection committee of five to eight people. This year the committee chose the Queen from 19 candidates. Of those, seven are University students.