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Students court Fiesta Bowl votes

Jacob Konst/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Jeanine Zelik, a social studies senior, and Kate Rook, a pre-education sophomore, were nominated for the 35th Fiesta Bowl Court. Ballots to decide the queen can be cast today at 8 a.m. until Wednesday at 5 p.m. by logging on to
By Djamila Grossman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 28, 2005
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Two UA students will walk the red carpet as members of court royalty in the upcoming Fiesta Bowl, one of the four games in the Bowl Championship Series.

Whether or not one of them wins the queen crown will be decided in an election starting today.

Kate Rook, a pre-education sophomore, and Jeanine Zelik, a social studies senior, were nominated for the 35th Fiesta Bowl Court. The two will race for the highest position of the queen, along with two other students from Arizona State University.

For one year, the four students will serve as the Fiesta Bowl ambassadors, giving interviews, talking to sponsors and doing community service, said Gina Chappin, director of public relations at Fiesta Bowl, who was involved in judging and recruiting the more than 100 applicants.

Two different reasons motivated Rook and Zelik to apply for the competition, but both said they didn't trust their ears when they received a phone call for an interview.

"When I got the call I almost had to ask them 'What did you say?'" Rook said. "It took several days to resonate."

Zelik said when she got the call that "it felt amazing."

"I couldn't believe it when I got the phone call. I was really excited," Zelik said.

Rook said she grew up in the Phoenix area and would attend the Fiesta Bowl yearly. She said she always wanted to become queen. This year she met the age requirement of 19 and applied with the goal to try as many times as it would take to become a member of the court.

She wasn't the only one who was overwhelmed, Rook said. Her friends and family celebrated the victory with her.

"My mom screamed as loud as I (had) never heard her scream," Rook said.

While Zelik also said her mother was "jumping and screaming," she didn't plan to get on the court, but just wanted a call back, which means to be among the top 30.

Zelik said she didn't really plan to participate but saw the flier for the program and applied.

While the students said being natural and energetic are not the only qualities it takes to become Fiesta Bowl Court member, those qualities seem to be what gave them the legs up in the competition.

Rook said she was probably picked because of her professionalism and ability to communicate.

"I'm pretty spunky and energetic," Rook said. "I'm smiley, happy and I think my energy was my biggest draw."

Zelik said she didn't stress out too much about the interviews and tried to be herself.

"My goal was to stand out, not being afraid to joke around with people. It was fun. I was like 'This is who I am,'" said the Chi Omega sorority member.

The key elements the judges were looking for was the candidate's ability to speak in public, a good grade point average and extracurricular activities, Chappin said.

Interviews and committee meetings were set up to test those abilities, in which the women have to get to know as many people as possible in a certain time frame, Chappin said.

"Jeanine and Kate did a great job, they have excellent grades and are very interesting to talk to," Chappin said. "Hospitality is a big key for our organization."

The women are officially jockeying for the position as a queen until the coronation Thursday. Even if neither of them win, both students agreed the most important goal was to be on the court.

"Once I got to the top 10, it was an accomplishment itself. I am just so honored to be on the court," Rook said. "All the other three girls are so amazing. There is honestly no competition between us."

Rook and Zelik said they are looking forward to many networking opportunities, and Chappin said committee members often help out with jobs and internships in the future.

"All activities are a once in a lifetime thing. They will have a lot of unique opportunities most people don't get to be a part of," Chappin said.

Every member of the court will get a scholarship sponsored by the Fiesta Bowl organization, but she doesn't want to disclose the amount, Chappin said.

Ballots can be cast today at 8 a.m. until Wednesday at 5p.m. by logging on to

There will be Channel 12 interviews with the women on the same Web site, Chappin said.

The Fiesta Bowl game kicks off at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe on Jan. 2 between the Big 12 Conference champion and winner from the Pacific 10 Conference.

I'm pretty spunky and energetic. I'm smiley, happy and I think my energy was my biggest draw.

- Kate Rook,


pre-education sophomore

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