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  • Jonathan Stokes

Tritons Got Talent, Yes They Do

By: Jonathan Stokes

Coordinator of Student Activities and University Program Board Advisor, Elijah McCoy, set out to make this year’s homecoming festivities stand out from those of years past. With a team of student staffers supporting him, Elijah and company crafted the first-ever two-week homecoming celebration in honor of UMSL’s 60th anniversary.

The Homecoming Planning Committee began working on the event schedule in October. Homecoming co-chairs, Yuli Perez and Jalen Walker-Wright led the committee as they conceptualized, planned, promoted and executed 11 homecoming events. 

With a focus on various experiences that would appeal to students, alumni and staff, the team worked to bring back homecoming week favorites and introduce UMSL to some new concepts.  

On Monday, Feb. 26, Tritons Got Talent debuted at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. 

Photo by Jonathan Stokes

Students who made it past the audition process stepped on the main stage to compete for a grand prize of $200 and the bragging right to say they performed at the first-ever Tritons Got Talent event.  

The theater radiated energy as nervous contestants paced the hallways and excited committee members celebrated their hard work to make the event happen. The adrenaline continued to pump as DJ Raemo played music that practically demanded head bops and toe taps from the audience. 

Though the audience was asked to clap without added hoots or hollers, the palpable energy buzzing throughout the room made it clear that the event would be too exciting for golf claps and decorum.  

Lauren Johns started the night of performances with an acoustic version of “The Lake” by Taylor Swift. With live guitar accompaniment, a microphone and a spotlight, Johns set the bar nice and high for the rest of the night’s performances. The second performance was a contemporary dance by Megan Boers. Boers commanded the entire stage while dancing to “Fire Meets Fate” by Ruelle. Following Boers was Maleika Tall, whose fan club led the audience in enthusiastic cheering as Tall covered the song “Higher” by TEMS. Closing out the night’s first act was Mason Stimson, who performed a smooth, slowed-down version of ABBA’s “Mamma Mia” that left the audience smiling ear-to-ear. 

The intermission had its own entertainment provided by non-competing Tritons. 

Photo by Jonathan Stokes

Beloved Triton and walking inspiration, Mark Briguglio, wowed the audience with a performance of “I’ll Walk with God” from the motion picture “The Student Prince." Briguglio retired in 2014 and after five decades away from school, he officially became a Triton in 2018. Briguglio is working on his third degree, emphasizing that it is never too late to achieve life goals.

Photo by Jonathan Stokes

Following Mark was a group performance from the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta sororities alongside the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. The groups representing the National Pan-Hellenic Council performed multiple songs, culminating in a group stroll. Strolling is an organized dance showcasing power and unity within the organization. While strolls are frequent on Historically Black College and University campuses, seeing them at UMSL during Black History Month was a delight.  

The second act started with four spoken word poems written and performed by Shaniyah Sparkling. Sparkling moved the audience with thoughts on friendship and love with snaps from the audience between each poem. After the snaps came the shoe-throwing (not literally, it’s a turn of phrase) when Rachelle Martin brought the house down with a powerful rendition of Jermaine Stewart’s 1986 hit “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off.” After Martin took the audience to church, Hannah Gale took everyone to Broadway with an emotional performance of “Burn” from Hamilton. Gale’s dramatic performance and powerful vocal delivery stunned the audience, but there was one more act to go. Rounding out the evening’s entertainment was Christian Girma with a saxophone cover of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.” 

Immediately after Girma’s performance, judges began tabulating the scores. Contestants received scores in several areas: originality, stage presence and execution. The audience was also given a QR code to vote for the “Fan Favorite” performance. 


After an audience-wide swag surf and enthusiastic group performance of “Sweet Caroline," the contestants were brought back on stage to receive their final ranking. 

 While every Triton on stage was a winner, only four official winners were named. 

Photo by Jonathan Stokes

Rachelle Martin was voted “Fan Favorite” by the audience. Third place went to Mason Stimson, second place to Hannah Gale, and the first-place grand prize winner was Christian Girma. 

The genuine enthusiasm from the audience and the quality of performances from the contestants symbolize the best parts of being a Triton. The diversity of skills on stage and the diversity of people in the building created the perfect atmosphere for a homecoming event. 

The hard work and effort put forth by Elijah, Yuli, Jalen and the Homecoming Planning Committee cannot be ignored. From the welcome in the lobby to the intermission cupcakes, the consideration for all attendees was meticulously curated and raised the bar for events moving forward.

UMSL may not see another two-week homecoming event again, but Tritons Got Talent must return. 


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