Augustana University students Cooper Benning and Madeline Basso ‘23 were crowned the 2022 Viking Days Royals at coronation on Wednesday, Oct. 12, in the Elmen Center.
Benning, a communication studies/business major from Lennox, South Dakota, was escorted in by his parents, Jamie and Stacy Benning.
“The experience was kind of a blur,” Benning said. “I felt a great level of gratitude wash over me. At that very moment, I wanted to hug each and every person around me.”
For Benning, being named a royal is about much more than a crown.
“It serves as a reminder that what matters most in life is how we treat one another,” Benning said. “As I go about my daily schedule, I have countless interactions with folks around me. I can treat those interactions as small, unimportant periods of time, or I can look upon the interactions as unique opportunities to breathe life into the person.”
After graduation, Cooper plans to work as an outside sales representative.
Basso, an exercise science major from Rapid City, South Dakota, was escorted at coronation by her boyfriend, Evan Allen ‘25.
“Everyone standing on the stage was so deserving…all of the (royalty) candidates have left a positive mark on the campus and Sioux Falls community,” Basso said. “My head was filled with thoughts, memories and nervous energy. I had to remember that I had a supportive friend next to me, Cooper, whom I have known since freshman year. I made myself laugh because my crown was slightly slipping off my head in every photo taken of us.”
Basso, who plans to attend physical therapy school following graduation, said Augustana has been a second home for her.
“Augustana is a place where I realized what is truly important to me and my mission in life,” said Basso. “It has challenged me to ask passionate questions when I need help the most, such as through classroom curriculum or crucial conversations. Augustana has provided me with the resources to develop natural skills and self-love.”
Viking Days 2022 continues through the weekend. View the full schedule.
Other members of the 2022 Royal Court include:
- Colin Ferri ‘24, of Sioux Falls — Accounting and Business Administration Major
- Sabdi Bravo ‘23, of Lismore, Minnesota — Biology and Languages, Literatures & Cultures Major
- Tatiana Chance ‘23, of Babylon, New York, and Sioux Falls — Elementary Education and Theater Major
- Courtney Chrystal ‘23, of Dakota Dunes, South Dakota — Government & International Affairs Major
- José Cruz Medina ‘23, of Edgerton, Minnesota — Sociology, Psychology and Languages, Literatures & Cultures Major
- Nacho Larios ‘23, of Marshall, Minnesota — Biology Major
- Kinzie Gullikson ‘23, of Warren, Minnesota — Elementary Education Major
- Kellie Geigle ‘23, of Yankton, South Dakota — Biology and Spanish Major