Sophomore Nicole Litwiller, a senator in the Student Government Association, was a major contributor to the "Royals Cup," an all-campus competition this semester that encourages participation and attendance at campus events. She is also a member of the Royal Ambassadors and Honors Council. (Photos by Joaquin Sosa)

Our Royal Pride: Harry Potter fan Nicole Litwiller leads creation of ‘Royals Cup’ competition to perk student interest in campus activities

“Our Royal Pride” is an occasional series celebrating Eastern Mennonite University’s undergraduate students who  contribute to campus life in extraordinary ways in addition to their academic pursuits. These students enthusiastically create their own niches, constantly re-defining what it means to be an EMU Royal student “Like No Other.” Nominate a student with an email to lauren.jefferson@emu.edu.

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In two years, sophomore Nicole Litwiller has used her artistic worldview, psychology background and creative problem-solving skills to carve out her own niche at Eastern Mennonite University. When the liberal arts major came here from Sarasota, Florida, she only knew a handful of people on campus.

“I remember the first week or so feeling really lost. Once I started getting involved, I kind of found my stride. And that’s how I knew this place was home,” says Litwiller.

Nicole Litwiller, a member of the Royals Ambassadors, gives a tour of campus.

Litwiller is extending that sense of belonging to other students through the “Royals Cup,”  a campus-wide competition designed to increase student involvement and foster team camaraderie.

Housing-based teams “check in” to campus events, which are assigned different point values. The team with the highest percentage of involvement at the end of the year will receive a trophy and special celebration during Springfest. This semester is the “pilot program” of what would ideally be an annual, year-long event explains Litwiller, whose Maplewood Dorm team is currently in the lead.

The Cup grew out of brainstorming sessions in the Student Government Association (SGA), where Litwiller is a senator.

“I love Harry Potter,” says Litwiller.

The Royals Cup is based on the “House Cup,” which is awarded to one of four “houses” (dormitories) in the magical Hogwarts School. “That inspired me to think about it in a way that the EMU campus could benefit from, whether you’re a ‘muggle’ (magic-less human) or a wizard,” she jokes.

Lead Residence Director Scott Eyre, Director of Student Programs Rachel Roth Sawatzky, Professor Kirsten Beachy and Rachel Holderman, SGA vice president of marketing, have been the other primary organizers behind the competition.

Litwiller is also part of the Royal Ambassadors and Honors Council. She’s also joined the planning committee for the Inauguration Gala, a formal event April 7 to celebrate the inauguration of Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman as EMU’s ninth president.

Litwiller’s artistic spirit informs her involvement in each of these.

“Art is just something that’s always been a part of me,” she says. “It is how I observe things, and how I look at the ‘little beauties’ … that helps me to look at things a little bit differently than someone with a more scientific or mathematical mind might think of things.”

Litwiller says that, besides art, participating in Odyssey of the Mind in high school – a youth competition which fosters creative problem-solving – has informed her approach to college. Her liberal arts concentration in psychology helps Litwiller consider individual and group wellbeing within the many organizations she navigates.

Music, good conversation, and reflection keep Litwiller energized for this work. “Get involved in the things that give you the most energy, but also make sure to take times for things that restore you,” she advises.

Nominate a student with an email to lauren.jefferson@emu.edu.

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