Nicole Machado, a junior in Textile and Apparel Management, was honored as the 2009 female Leader of the Pack. Machado was one of three female finalists in the running for this prestigious award. On November 7, 2009, all finalists were invited to the NC State vs. Maryland Homecoming football game to find out the results of the competition. As she stood in the center of the field at Carter Finley Stadium, Machado was announced as the winner and recognized by Chancellor James Woodard.

Leader of the Pack replaces the traditional homecoming queen and king at NC State. Applicants must be undergraduate students who exhibit leadership, scholarship, and community service, in addition to maintaining a 2.5 or higher GPA and being actively involved in extra curricular activities.

The application process is strenuous, requiring a personal interview, written essays, and often times, campaigning in order to foster student support during voting. Students on campus can vote online to decide who they believe deserves the award. The winner is determined by the cumulative score from all phases of the process, and receives a $1,000 scholarship and a class ring from the Alumni Association.

According to Machado, applying for the Leader of the Pack award was always a goal of hers since freshmen year, but winning was an unanticipated and pleasant surprise. “Winning was very surreal,” said Machado, “I wasn’t expecting it at all!”

Machado is an extremely involved student, to say the least. She is a member of the University Scholars Program, Language Exchange Program, Diversity Activities Board, President of Mi Familia, Secretary of Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Incorporated, a peer mentor, and a former residential advisor and study abroad student in Peru. She annually participates in campus service projects including the Shack-a-thon, Service NC State, Service Raleigh, and Kids Café.

Maria Rodriguez, a senior in Psychology and Machado’s hermana (sister) in Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Incorporated, says she is very proud, and being hard working is just a part of who Nicole Machado is. “She is always willing to lead a project and help others in whatever capacity she can. Working with her on a continuous basis, I see that Nicole always gives her 100 percent effort,” said Rodriguez.  Rodriguez also said, “Nicole is very humble and a true leader on our campus. She leads with dignity and integrity, and she is consistently concerned about the well being of others and making change in our community.”

Once she set her mind to winning this competition, Machado spent weeks getting her name out as a candidate around campus. She publicized herself via a Facebook group entitled, “NICOLE MACHADO for Leader of the Pack,” in which all of her friends and supporters could join, write encouraging comments on her messaging wall, and invite others around campus to be apart of the group in order to spread the word. Machado also spoke at various organizations’ meetings around campus, such as the African American Student Advisory Council (AASAC) to explain her qualifications to those who were unfamiliar with her, and encourage everyone to vote.

Machado recognizes that the support she received from the minority community on campus played a role in her winning. “After making it to the final round, I felt being the only ethnic minority of all six finalists was a plus,” said Machado. “No matter which minority group an individual is in, usually they like to see the minority succeed, and since I was the only ethnic minority, there was no splitting of the votes.”

Being the true leader that she is, Machado hopes that this title will help her set an example and start a new trend for both her fellow Latinos and minorities as a whole. It is difficult to be a minority at this institution, but it also allows for great change to occur,” said Machado. “I think that I can use this title to benefit the University by increasing the awareness of the Latino population on campus. I think a lot of people realize the potential of the Latino population” said Machado. “Hopefully we can increase the awareness of issues that affect ALL minorities.”

Machado looks at winning Leader of the Pack as an unforgettable experience, and she points out that she owes a lot of thanks to her friends as well. “I was having second thoughts about entering the competition, but my best friend finally talked me into applying, said Machado. “The best part is knowing that all my friends were cheering me on and are genuinely proud and happy for me.”