By Christina Young
Rebecca Banks, a senior at Youngstown State University, is a rare breed: a nontraditional student who ran for the Homecoming Court — and made it.
She ran in for her son, who passed away in 2012 when he was 18 years old after a drowning accident. She has dedicated her Homecoming Court nomination to her son Bruce Banks and two other young drowning victims.
“I dedicate this to my son and the other two recent drowning victims because if they were still alive they might of ran for homecoming court and been on the court themselves, so this is for them,” Banks said. “I am doing this for them in their place.”
Despite the tragedy of losing her son, she still is motivated to graduate, which she plans to do this spring with a degree in general studies.
“It’s hard to keep going when you lost your child, but through Bruce I have so many sons and daughters here at YSU. A lot of them are on this campus and that helps a lot. They run up to me, give me a huge hug and say ‘Hi mommy,’ which comforts me a lot,” Banks said. “I thank everyone here because it does help me keep going.”
Her son was the reason she returned to college. After one of many conversations with her son about her desire to go back to school, he said, “you always say that mom.” She knew after that conversation that she had to stop just talking and start acting.
Shortly after, she signed up for classes. Now, only a couple years later, she is involved in eight different organizations, including Rookery Radio and the Penguin Review, and facing graduation soon.
Banks said, through her Homecoming Court position, she hopes to help break apart stereotypes.
“I am very nontraditional, but not in the sense of the way the college defines it — when people see me they automatically assume I am old school or something. I am not your typically 52-year person. I think people feel like they can’t do stuff because it’s not meant for them — such as I can’t run for court because it’s only for the traditional students — and that is not true,” she said. “I want people to see that you can do anything no matter your age, gender, size or whatever you may think may be stopping you. YSU is just so much fun for everyone.”
She believes her election onto the court shows how open minded the students and staff are here at YSU.
“It shows that people here are willing to think out of the box and take a risk,” Banks said.
Even with all the excitement and appreciation radiating from Banks for her election onto the court, she is still most excited about walking on the field during half time of the homecoming game.
“I feel like me walking out on the field during an actual half time is as if I am seeing the world through my son’s eyes for that one moment, because he played on the field in middle school, and it is just really cool,” Banks said.