The Sun Bowl Association announced the 2017-18 Sun Court, Friday, July 28 with Macy McBeth as the 2017 Sun Queen and Ariana Martell as the Lady-in-Waiting.
Coronation has been part of the Sun Bowl since the first-ever college Sun Bowl game was played in 1936. Coronation played a huge social role in the “Sun Carnival”, the week-long pageantry associated with the Sun Bowl.
According to the 1938 Sun Bowl game program, “The social side of the Sun Carnival centers around the Coronation of the Sun Queen with Ladies-In-Waiting and her Royal Court of Princesses from all the cities of the Sun Empire and the Grand Ball tendered by the Association in honor of Her Majesty and Court.”
In the early years of the coronation, about 30 young women were part of the formal coronation, and each participant represented an organization.
Now, from five-to-nine or more individuals are chosen for the court, including one queen. Selection is based on poise, appearance, personality, communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to demonstrate knowledge of El Paso.
Contestants must be enrolled as full-time students.
The Sun Court serves as ambassadors for the city of El Paso. They volunteer at various community events and make appearances at the Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic, FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade, WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, Hyundai Sun Bowl Game, Academy Sports + Outdoors Sun Bowl International Soccer Tournament, the Helen of Troy Sun Court Charm Camp and other events throughout the year
MEET THE COURT
2017 Sun Queen – Macy McBeth
Sun Queen Macy McBeth is a 2017 graduate of the University of Oklahoma where she received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Spanish. Macy wrapped up her undergraduate career with a 3.70 grade point average and was on the Dean’s List at OU from 2013-2017. She is the daughter of Mitch and Jill McBeth and has one sister, Kendall McBeth.
Macy is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Biology at Oklahoma with plans to go into the medical field in the future. While attending OU, McBeth was a member of Delta Gamma all four years and held various positions with the organization. She was an El Paso Panhellenic Scholarship Recipient and PITF Travel Scholarship Recipient in 2016.
McBeth was also very active all four years of her undergraduate career and held various positions including Campus Activities Council Film Series Executive Committee and Campus Activities Council Film Series Executive Vice Chair.
Macy mentioned that as a child she looked up to the Sun Princesses and remembers seeing them at different events. She admired the fact that these ladies represented El Paso and understands that she has the opportunity to be a positive role model for young girls throughout the El Paso area. Macy is ready and excited to be the leader for the 2017 Sun Court and cannot wait to be an ambassador for both the Sun Bowl and the City of El Paso.
2017 Lady-in-Waiting – Ariana Martell
Ariana Martell is a graduate of Eastwood High School and is the daughter of Dr. Gustavo and Diana Martell. She recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a minor in Legal Studies and Spanish at Texas Tech University. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Higher Education. While at Texas Tech Ariana has been a part of many organizations including Raider Sisters for Christ, TechPR and the College of Media and Communication Dean’s Student Ambassadors. She was also a part of the President’s Select and was the Member of the Year for two consecutive years (2015-16 & 2016-17).
Ariana represented Texas Tech at the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Hong Kong where she spoke to more than 850 students from around the world. She has also worked at Texas Tech as an undergraduate teaching assistant for anatomy teaching students about the anatomy of the human body. She was a graduate intern for the Office of the President at Texas Tech and helps organize events for donors, alumni and VIP guests while in that position. Ariana is the co-founder of SisterHoodies where she helps to collect coats and donates them to the less fortunate in El Paso.
SisterHoodies has collected more than 2,100 coats to date and assists Dame La Mano, The Rescue Mission and the Reynolds Home all year long. Ariana quoted Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz stating “There’s no place like home” and is proud, honored and humbled to represent her hometown as the 2017 Sun Court Lady-in-Waiting.
2017 Sun Princess – Alexis Gonzalez
Alexis Nicole Gonzalez is a senior at Texas A&M University majoring in Animal Science and minoring in Business Administration. She is the daughter of Michael and Annette Gonzalez and is a graduate of Coronado High School. Alexis is a part of two organizations that illustrate her passion for agriculture are Sigma Alpha and Ducks Unlimited.
Sigma Alpha is a professional agricultural sorority that supports women in pursuing a career in agriculture. The organization raises money for their philanthropy “Ag in the Classroom”; which is awarded as a scholarship to incoming college freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
As for Ducks Unlimited, it is a national organization with collegiate chapters. Ducks Unlimited is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to conserving wetlands and waterfowl habitat across the country. Currently, the Texas A&M chapter is the number one collegiate chapter in the United States.
Alexis is a part of the National Society of Leadership & Success and received the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences department scholarship. She also recently made the Dean’s Honor Roll. Outside of the classroom she has fabricated livestock carcasses, visited feedlots, grain mills and packing plants while also interning for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.
She mentioned that by being a part of the Sun Court, she would be able to give back to a community that has blessed me tremendously. Alexis is a fifth generation El Pasoan and sees it as an honor to represent her hometown.
She is currently studying abroad in New Zealand and will return in August.
2017 Sun Princess – Ariana Campos
Ariana Sarahi Campos is the daughter of Armida Martinez and Jesse Venzor and Jasmine and Adrian Campos. Ariana is a senior at the University of Texas El Paso and is working towards her bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology with an Exercise Science concentration.
She is also pursuing a minor in Dance while she plans to return to UTEP upon graduation to work on a second bachelor’s degree in education. Ariana is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha – Theta Xi chapter where she volunteers with four philanthropies. She also holds the chapter editor and historian chairman. Ariana is also a National Panhellenic Council member and an undergraduate assistant with the university’s Professional and Public Programs department.
Outside of UTEP, she is employed with the Ysleta Independent School District as an AVID tutor at Alicia R Chacon International Magnet School. She also volunteers at Abundant Living Faith Center with the preschool ministry where she has served as a teacher and caregiver to the 3-year-old class for 5 years. Ariana was also an intern for the church.
Ariana’s family has been very involved with the Sun Bowl Association for 15 years as volunteers and she mentioned that she recalls looking up to the princesses as if they were actual princesses.
2017 Sun Princess – Ariela Gomez
Ariela Gomez is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso where she is studying Psychology while working towards a minor in Chemistry. She is the daughter of Sixto and Terry Gomez. During her time at UTEP she has been very involved on and off campus. As a freshman, she took part in laboratory research and her findings were ultimately published and presented at the Hypothalamic Circuits for Control of Survival Behavior Conference and the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.
In addition to Ariela’s published research, she served on UTEP’s Medical Professions Organization as the Alpha Epsilon Delta Representative, in which she helped connect and enroll pre-med students with Health Pre-professional Honor Societies. Ariela is also volunteer at the El Paso Baptist Clinic – a free medical clinic that services the poor in the Segundo Barrio neighborhood of El Paso. At the clinic Ariela works in the pharmacy and nursing departments where she assists in providing the necessary medications and treatments for particular medical conditions. All of
Ariela mentioned that representing El Paso through a position on the 2017 Sun Court is an honor. She also said that she attributes her successes and her pride of El Paso to her late mother. Ariela is anxious to get through college so that she can one day serve El Paso as a medical doctor but is also anxious to represent the Sun Bowl and El Paso during the 2017-2018 year.
2017 Sun Princess – Emily Booher
Emily Booher is the daughter of James and Susan Booher. She is now a senior at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Emily is majoring in Music, with an emphasis on Cello while also pursuing a minor in Spanish and is planning to graduate in May of 2018.
She describes herself as “obsessed with music” and that obsession has paid off as she was awarded grant money for her recording of “The Synesthesia Project” and was also awarded with the Potter Award for the same recording. She has also worked in a recording studio with many artists throughout her life including Zach Hanson of Hanson and Emily Robinson of the Dixie Chicks.
Aside from practicing and playing her cello, Emily plays in the University Orchestra, is now learning piano and teaching cello to elementary students. She is a member of Theta Epsilon Chapter of Tri Delta.
Emily mentioned that she has wanted to be a Sun Princess since childhood. She began riding the Lion’s Club float during the Sun Bowl Thanksgiving Day Parade as a toddler and continued that tradition every year through high school.
2017 Sun Princess – Gissel Ramirez
Gissel Ramirez is currently a senior at The University of Texas at El Paso majoring in Lingustics and minoring in Sociology. She is a graduate of Franklin High School and the daughter of Guillermo and Blanca Ramirez.
Gissel is a member of the UTEP Miner D.R.E.A.M. She aides in developing leadership roles on campus. She is a member of The National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and last but not least is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority, which promotes women of poise and purpose, as well as The Alpha Sigma Alpha 1901 Society. In ASA she holds two “executive board” positions: Vice President of Membership Education and Vice President of PR and Recruitment.
Gissel has participated in “Project Move” which is an effort by campus to bring together all registered student associations and have them do all kinds of community service events on the same day. She has been an active member every semester since Spring 2014, volunteering for institutions such as S. June Smith Center, Girls on the Run, The Alpha Sigma Alpha Foundation, El Paso Special Olympics and Texas DOT.
Gissel mentioned that the opportunity of becoming a community ambassador is definitely an exciting one. As a part of the Sun Court she hopes to keep developing as an individual and wants become further involved in my community.
2017 Sun Princess – Kira Conde
Kira Conde is the daughter of Ron and Christi Conde and is a graduate of El Paso High School where she maintained a 4.0 grade point average. Kira is currently a sophomore at the UCLA majoring in Neuroscience and working towards a minor in Cognitive Science. She plans to attend Medical School and become a psychiatrist after graduating and hopes to work toward finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. Kira is currently working at the UCLA Family Health Center in Santa Monica.
Kira recently also got hired for an internship with the UCLA Sports Medicine program. She is also am involved in the Resilience Peer Network at UCLA, a program that aims at creating peer counselors to make up for the Universities lack of counseling services. As a peer mentor she spends an hour a week leading a counseling group for anxious and depressed students who could not be helped by UCLA’s counseling services. She also spend an hour a week fine-tuning my peer counseling and Internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Skills so that I may best assist her peers.
Lastly, she is on the committee for the Bruin Run/Walk that occurred in April. The run raises money for the Chase Child Life Program at Mattel Children’s Hospital that provides treatment and child life specialists to sick children who are, sadly, forced to live there. Kira mentioned that when she was a little girl, my grandmother Elodia Conde told me about the Sun Court tradition. She also mentioned that truly aspired to become a Sun Princess not only for myself but my grandmother and my community.
2017 Sun Princess – Kristen Koehler
Kristen Koehler is a sophomore at Baylor University where she is a Biology major also working towards a minor in Business Administration. Kristen is the daughter of Bruce and Lee Ann Koehler and a graduate of Coronado High School where she was a part of the Thunderbirds varsity soccer team all four years. She was the team captain for two years and made first team all-district twice while also earning a sportsmanship scholarship. On top of that she graduated from Coronado High School in the top five percent of her class.
At Baylor, she is currently a part of Beta Beta Beta (biology honor society) and Alpha Lambda Delta (national honor society for first year students). Kristen is also involved in the Baylor Chapter of Relay for Life (Logistic Committee Chair), Baylor Medical Ethics Discussion Society (member), and Student Health Advisory Council (member). She also made the Dean’s list and has earned the Baylor President’s Gold Scholarship. She has ambitions to pursue a career in healthcare.
Kristen mentioned that representing the El Paso community as a Sun Princess has been a dream of hers for years and remembers watching the court walk onto the field and telling her family that I wanted to be a part of that experience someday. The Sun Bowl is especially important to her because my great-grandfather was the contractor (Ponsford Brothers) that completed the Sun Bowl Stadium
2017 Sun Princess – Lana Hussein
Lana Hussein is the daughter of Musa Hussein and Lina Hamdan and is a graduate of Coronado High School. She is currently a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso where she is a Mechanical Engineering major and minoring in Mathematics and Biomedical Engineering. Her goal is to become a Professional Engineer for a fuel company and work on designs to supply oil and gas to several customers and locations.
At UTEP she intends to enhance her leadership skills, so she ran for elections to become a Senator At-Large and won. She represents approximately a thousand students on UTEP’s campus and is responsible for communicating with the student body and helping to create solutions for students’ concerns. With in the Student Governement Association Lana was the Chair of the Appropriations Committee and was charged with the duty to allocate a total of $90,000 for organizations and students that hosted events or traveled to conferences.
She was also the Co-Chair of the EXCEL Freshman Leadership Program and hosted an Etiquette Dinner and created special projects for members to complete. Lana is a part of the Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) Women’s Fraternity as the the Ritual Chairman. She was also the Director of Sisterhood and in the position hosted events that built teamwork, leadership, communication, trust, and sisterly bonds.
Lana also had the honor of being UTEP’s 2016 Homecoming Queen. She represented UTEP on TV, on the radio, and at events that she attended. Finally, she joined the University Honor’s Program (UHP) and completed all the credits necessary to gain an Honor’s Degree. Lana has been on the Dean’s List since 2014. She is currently an Engineering Intern at the Texas Gas Service Company. As an Intern she works on new gas designs and structures for buildings and also plans locations and cost estimates for gas meters and gas pipes.
Lana wanted to become a Sun Princess in order to represent her city, to give back to her community by volunteering and being more involved, to inspire and empower others to follow and achieve their dreams, and to inspire herself to reach to higher goals. Lana said that this is truly an honor and would love to make her city proud.
2017 Sun Princess – Lillian Sanchez
Lillian Ariadna Sanchez is the daughter of Eduardo Sanchez and Elizabeth Sanchez Porras. Lillian currently attends The University of Texas at El Paso and holds a 3.96 grade point average while pursing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and minoring in Legal Reasoning. Lillian plans to graduate this December and is hopeful she will graduate Summa Cum Laude.
She has been the recipient of the Amelia Eckhardt Dennis Scholarship in Communication and has been on the Dean’s List since her first semester at UTEP. She is also a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Law School Preparation Institute. Her goal is to one day become a public defense attorney in Texas.
Lillian mentioned that being a part of the Sun Court means a lot to her and is excited to be a strong ambassador for the El Paso community. She hopes to be able to exemplify the culture that truly defines the City of El Paso and wants to be a strong role model for other young ladies.
2017 Sun Princess – Mckenna Hitter
Mckenna Hitter is the daughter of Gerald and Linda Hitter. She is attending the University of Texas at El Paso where she is majoring in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. Mckenna is also a graduate of Eastlake High School where she graduated at the class Salutatorian with a 4.0 grade point average. She was able to maintain that perfect GPA while also competing on the volleyball team for four years and while being a part of the swim team for two years.
At UTEP, Mckenna has already made the Dean’s List for the fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017 and is now a member of Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity where she holds the position of Marshal and is also on the Public Relations Council. As a member of Alpha Xi Delta she has helped to raise money for Autism Speaks. She was recently accepted into the Excel Program that is run by the Student Government Association at UTEP and was recommended for an Engineering Peer Advising position in the Engineering department.
Mckenna said that growing up in El Paso she was introduced to many of the traditions El Paso has to offer. Whether it’s UTEP sports, Chihuahuas baseball games, Viva El Paso, Fort Bliss or the Sun Bowl, Mckenna has seen the traditions and has learned what our community is about. The Sun Bowl puts El Paso on a national stage and what better way to spread the goodwill of El Paso and the Sun Bowl by being a part of the Sun Court.
2017 Sun Princess – Stephanie Paz
Stephanie Paz is the daughter of Juan and Yvette Silvas-Paz. A graduate of Harmony Science Academy in El Paso, Stephanie is now a sophomore at the University of Texas at El Paso where she is a Psychology major, minoring in Biology. Stephanie is a Native American woman from El Paso’s very own Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tigua tribe.
At UTEP she is a member of the women’s fraternity Zeta Tau Alpha where she has held leadership positions on the fraternity’s Executive Committee as both Historian-Reporter and Membership Chair. Currently, she is the New Member Coordinator where she serves as an exemplary character and mentor. Through ZETA she has been able to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Cancer Run. Stephanie is also the current Vice President of Recruitment for the College Panhellenic Council where she organizes Formal Recruitment and promotes Panhellenic Sorority Life. She was awarded the “2017 Greek Woman of the Year” title because she represents and promotes Greek Life on campus in the most positive manner and works with all the chapters.
From 2016 to 2017, Stephanie served as a Senator-at-Large for the University’s Student Government Association. As a Senator-at-Large, representing one thousand students, she voiced student concerns at the local college level and created “special projects” for the student body to benefit. Her platform focused on raising awareness on dating violence and sexual assault among college students and campuses by moderating films followed by open discussions.
In Stephanie’s Native American community, she is an advocate for Native American youth and health. She currently works at the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Department of Behavioral Health on a research project that aims to create a “culturally-appropriate” toolkit that will strengthen the health of Tigua families, youth, and the tribal community. As an active member, she advocates not only for her tribe but for the American Indian Country as a whole in all aspects regarding physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Stephanie is proudly representing El Paso because she takes a great amount of pride in being Native American and a UTEP Miner and El Pasoan. As Sun Princess she intends to represent the strength of minorities, the dedication of a female leader, and the embodied pride of an El Pasoan.
2017 Sun Princess – Valeria Varela
Valeria Varela was born and raised in El Paso and is the daughter of Jose and Martha Varela. She is a graduate of Burges High School and is currently a senior at The University of Texas at El Paso where is a Biological and Biomedical Science major and is holding a 4.0 grade point average. Valeria graduated in the top 4% of her class. She was a Distinguished Honors Graduate, Dual credit participant, and recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution Award. During her senior year, she was awarded a UTEP Academic Scholarship.
At UTEP, Valeria has been inducted into the College of Science Dean’s List and Dean’s List Plus since her freshman year. During her sophomore year at UTEP, Valeria was selected as a Miner Ambassador which has given her the opportunity to represent the school at various events. She was also inducted into the College of Science 4+4 Club, which is for individuals who have a 4.0 major and overall grade point average. Additionally, she was selected as a 21st Century Scholar, member of the Honors Program, and a recipient of the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges Award.
Valeria has interned at various medical schools throughout Texas every summer since becoming a student at UTEP. Her first internship was at Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso, her second was at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine at Lubbock, Texas, and this summer she is attending an internship at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas.
In addition to her coursework, she am an Administrative Office Assistant to Dean Conklin at El Paso Community College. During her spare time, Valeria volunteers at various events in the El Paso and Juarez region, including the following events: The St. Anthony’s Seminary Annual Bazaar, UTEP events, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine healthcare events, and at local Elementary Schools inspiring the youth to pursue a higher education.
Knowing that El Paso is a socially and culturally diverse community with endless opportunities to grow and explore, Valeria is very excited to represent the city that has helped her to mature throughout her life. Being able to give back to my community while representing the city she loves would be an honor.
Photo Gallery by Andres Acosta, El Paso Herald-Post Chief Photographer