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‘I felt like I was home’: Millie LeJeune crowned 2023 Homecoming Queen

Emilee Arnold
Millie LeJeune cries after being declared WKU’s 2023 Homecoming queen during WKU’s matchup against New Mexico State on November 11, 2023.

When 36 other girls joined Mildred ‘Millie’ LeJeune on Saturday, Nov. 11 to compete for the title of Homecoming Queen, LeJeune was shocked to find out she would be crowned queen.

“It wasn’t until I heard ‘Black woman,’ like, that I knew that it was me that just won,” LeJeune said. “It’s still shocking, it’s still a dream. Like, I’m still waiting on somebody to wake me up and be like, ‘Millie, snap out of it.’”

LeJeune, a senior exercise science major with a concentration in pre-physical therapy, is very active in her campus involvement. She is a former president and a current member of Black Women of Western, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Exercise Science Club, Why Knot Us Too, Alpha Epsilon Delta and works as an ISEC navigator. 

LeJeune was president of Black Women of Western beginning in Fall 2021, passing the torch to Kennedy Williams officially in Fall 2023. Black Women of Western (BWOW) is a multifaceted organization, as detailed by Williams, a junior management major with a human resources concentration. 

“We really focus on practice of mentorship and sisterhood and really, just being a place for Black women on campus to come together and be authentically themselves, but also to help and guide them as a resource for black women on campus,” Williams said. “We do discussion panels on mental health or dietary things that can help black women or just social events.”

Williams described the organization as a place that also provides a break from other campus responsibilities, such as homework or other clubs.

“I felt like some of the events like that could be a mental break from everything that the girls have going on, like homework to other organizations,” Williams said. “Just somewhere where we can take a break from everything and be surrounded by friendly faces and have meaningful conversations with everybody.”

Williams wanted to sponsor LeJeune with BWOW not only due to being a former president of the organization but also because of what she does for those around her. 

“She’s the former president, and like, I thought it was a great opportunity for us to get you [Millie] out there and get some recognition for that. I was very excited for when she said she wanted to do it,” Williams said. “Cause Millie’s just always doing something great. Millie’s always doing something to be the best Millie she can be, really.”

Williams has been inspired by LeJeune and her outgoingness since her freshman year, crediting her interest in Black Women of Western to LeJeune herself.

“When I first came in my freshman year, she gave me the biggest hug and I was so surprised by it because I didn’t know who she was,” Williams said. “And like, I really was interested in BWOW because of her because I felt like that was a great organization for me to be in, as a black woman on campus.”

One of LeJeune’s largest presences aside from BWOW is due to her involvement in the Intercultural Student Engagement Program (ISEC) as a navigator.

“I serve as a navigator, which is a liaison for freshman scholars that come onto campus, [and] I serve as a mentor and mentor them throughout their freshman year up until their senior year,” LeJeune said. “I have two currently right now, that are both freshmen I try to help them with their schedules. We help them periodically, bi-weekly, and just make sure they’re staying on track so we can keep them here at Western Kentucky University.” 

Despite ending up winning the competition, LeJeune only applied for Homecoming Queen the day before applications closed, deciding to apply due to inspiration instilled in her by her grandmother and Alice Gatewood Waddell, the first African American Homecoming Queen at WKU in 1972.

“So, I found out about it the day before it was due and submitted my application, and I got people to help me out, those sponsors, and started the campaign,” LeJeune said. “This is a dream that came true.”

The candidates did various activities around and during homecoming week, and as LeJeune appreciated, she got to know them on a personal level. 

“We started off with the social, just getting to get to know the girls. We hung around downtown and went to Spencer’s, and started the week off with a candle making class,” LeJeune said. “That was very sentimental and sweet getting to just talk to the girls on a calmer level instead of us going against each other.”

LeJeune emphasized the challenges of homecoming.

“My friend called me and was like, ‘Hey Millie, I’m just wondering where you’re at.’” LeJeune said. “And I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m freaking out, I’m not in line, I had no type of signal on Saturday, my phone’s about to die, just trying to find my escort,” LeJeune said. “It was a challenge.” 

LeJeune credits her grandmother for being the motivation for her goal to win Homecoming Queen. She was happy regardless of the competition’s outcome, and proud of her contributions to WKU for her communities. 

“I definitely carried the torch for her and kept my promises to her. I remember before walking on the field before they announced my name, I looked up in the sky and thought, Grandma, this is for you.”

LeJeune wanted to note the effect this has on the groups she is a part of. 

“This is still a major accomplishment for the Haitian community and also Western’s community, too, that rallied behind me,” LeJeune said.

A proud supporter of LeJeune is Martha Sales, WKU dean of students. Sales is excited LeJeune gets to serve as Homecoming Queen, seeing how she has excelled and impacted others over time. 

“I knew Millie, actually in her relationships with the Intercultural Student Engagement Center. She’s a scholar, as well as a navigator. To be a navigator, you have to excel not only academically, but in leadership and skills and competency and how to be kind and treat people…,” Sales said. “She always comes by and checks on me, always has a beautiful, bright smile on her face, always encouraging, and then I see her in her act with others and she does the same,” Sales said. “And then I think she’s truly focused on the wellbeing of others.”

LeJeune will graduate this winter, but plans to continue working in the organizations she is a part of and wants to become involved as an alumni, continuing her work even if she is away from Bowling Green. LeJeune feels very strongly about WKU and always has, long before becoming Homecoming Queen. 

“WKU definitely chose me, like, when I walked on this campus before COVID happened in February of 2020, I felt like I was home,” LeJeune said. “And if I could choose a million times and go back in time [to] what school I want to go to when I make my commitment, it will always be WKU.”

News Reporter Apollo Menéndez can be reached at [email protected]

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