For 2004 queen, WKU roots are deep

Chris Rutledge

It’s Homecoming night in the fall of 2004, and Destiny O’Rourke is standing next to her escort anxiously awaiting the judges’ decision. The rain is pouring down and her mother is in the front row cheering her on. She feels sentimental and thinks to herself that she’ll really miss WKU after she graduates.

They call her name, and despite promising herself that she wouldn’t do the “typical beauty pageant thing,” she finds herself screaming into her hand. She steps forward to be crowned, taking the umbrella with her. She looks back at her escort who is now soaking wet, and feels a little guilty.

“When they called my name it was — oh gosh, there’s no way to describe the feeling,” said O’Rourke, recounting the story. “I can remember getting up there and being so nervous, because even though it was raining, there were still quite a few people there. To walk out on that court and know that I was representing that organization and could possibly represent the university — it was kind of like a dream. It’s a culmination of the college experience.”

Today you can find O’Rourke, who represented Spirit Masters at that 2004 Homecoming, working in the Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. She still has her tiara hanging in her office.

She started off working in a temporary position in the Admissions Office five years ago but enjoyed the position so much that she decided to keep it. Now she is assistant director of Annual Giving, and according to co-worker Amy Miller, assistant director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, she’s the biggest source of school spirit on campus.

“She is the biggest supporter of WKU you could ever find,” Miller said. “She ends most sentences with ‘Go Tops!’”

Miller describes O’Rourke as being full of positive energy.

“She was very deserving of Homecoming Queen,” said Miller. “Lots of times our Homecoming Queens are from some of our Greek organizations, which is great, but the fact that she was voted on by the student body shows that she knows a lot of people in a lot of different areas. People are drawn to her. They want to be around her and want to listen to what she has to say.”

Ginny Hensley, director of Alumni Programming and Homecoming co-chair, said that when O’Rourke isn’t visiting alumni or working with international graduates, she is keeping morale high in the office.

“Destiny was the epitome of a WKU student,” Hensley said. “She is just like she was when she graduated as a student. She is Miss Personality. She can put you in a good mood on your very worst of days. She’s always a breath of fresh air in this office.”

O’Rourke credits WKU with her success both professionally and personally.

“I grew up on that Hill. I am the person I am today because of WKU,” O’Rourke said. “Because of WKU I was able not only to join organizations, but to take a lead role in those organizations.”

O’Rourke said she still gets sentimental around Homecoming week and looks forward to seeing this year’s candidates.

“It’s a chance to see how awesome the women of our campus are,” O’Rourke said. “There are so many selfless, talented leaders on our campus.”

O’Rourke said this year’s Homecoming Queen should make lots of memories and remember that she’s a representative of WKU and that she embodies the school’s spirit.

“No matter where you go and what you do, your university thought enough of you, and you thought enough of your university to have been a Homecoming Queen,” she said.