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It’s award-show season now, but UCF students have been competing since September for the coveted crown of Mr. UCF. On Feb. 6, a winner was finally announced: Meet your new Mr. UCF, Luke Hogue.

Hogue is a junior hospitality management major who has been thinking about running for Mr. UCF since he first stepped foot on campus and finally flipped his way into the crown with his talent, acrobatic dance. The pageant had six male contestants compete in categories such as interviews, talent acts, swim and active wear competitions and evening wear attire.

“One of the first couple students I saw on campus was the Mr. and Miss UCF. They were individuals that left an impression on what it truly meant to be a Knight,” he said. “The pride they expressed and welcoming community they fostered were something that I strived to achieve in my four years here at UCF.”

The Mr. UCF Scholarship Program was first started in 1990 as a way to provide scholarship opportunities for service-fee paying students with at least a 2.5 UCF GPA, said Lamar Walker, the program’s coordinator at the Office of Student Involvement.

Walker said that the winner each year receives a scholarship from the Student Government Association and the Alumni Association, with the amount varying each year depending on the funding available at the time.

“This year, Luke will receive a combined $2,000, as well as a custom Mr. UCF class ring courtesy of the UCF Bookstore,” he said.

As Mr. UCF, Hogue along with his Miss UCF counterpart, Ivory Paulk, will host a variety of traditional UCF events, such as Pegasus Palooza, Homecoming Skit Knight and Spirit Splash.

It’s a title with a lot of impact on the campus community, but last year, with a little encouragement from his friends, Hogue decided to sign up.

Since then, there have been countless hours in group rehearsals, individual talent rehearsals, posing for headshots and filming. It was a big time commitment, Hogue said, but well worth it because of the friendships he formed with the other contestants.

“Spending countless hours with these amazing students have provided me memories that will truly last a lifetime,” he said. “The biggest challenge along the way, for me, was knowing it was coming to an end.”

And end it did, with a glittering pageant that was over, for Hogue, in the blink of an eye. He said he felt a rush of pride and excitement when his name was announced.

Hogue isn’t the only one feeling proud. Jake Herndon, president of Beta Theta Pi, Hogue’s fraternity, said Hogue is extremely deserving of the title.

“Luke is a driven leader who works tirelessly to help those that are less fortunate and puts forth his best efforts on a nationwide level,” Herndon said. “As a good friend and brother in Beta Theta Pi, I’ve seen him grow over the past couple years to become a visionary and strong leader in the community.”

Herndon said people should know about Hogue’s work with nonprofit organizations, but also that he is an exceptional athlete, especially in the track and field high jumping event, adding that the UCF community should expect big things from him.

“As our next Mr. UCF, we can expect him to unite a UCF community that will rally around the principle of what it means to be a Knight through giving back to a university and community that have given so much to us,” Herndon said.

And Hogue is ready to get started.

“Serving in this role, I have the opportunity to represent this amazing university that has provided so many opportunities for the thousands of students enrolled,” he said. “This title is truly a bridge between the general community and the University of Central Florida.”

It is that bridge that is central to Hogue’s platform as Mr. UCF. Each year, the contestants in the program develop a platform to promote throughout their time with the title. Hogue’s is one trying to build bridges between young students and college-aged individuals.

His platform, “Youth Empowerment,” aims to connect college students and school systems in Orlando and around the entire state of Florida, so that the older generation can guide the younger to “make that change in society that they wish to see.”

Hogue said that this, bringing old and new Knights together, is what he hopes his legacy will be.

“It is always stated that you are remembered by your actions rather than your words,” he said. “I hope to build a strong knight nation that seeks to better the community as a whole.”

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Deanna Ferrante is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @deannaferrante or email her at DeannaF@centralfloridafuture.com.

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