alumni life

Queen for a Day

Fifty years after her crowning, UB’s 1963 Homecoming Queen returns to campus

Carolyn (Cooper) Fierson as Homecoming Queen in 1963 (left) and today, at the 2013 UB Homecoming and Family Weekend. Photo: Paul Hokanson

By Lauren Newkirk Maynard

“I felt like I was in a time machine and landed in the future.”
Carolyn Fierson

Carolyn (Cooper) Fierson (BS ’67) was a freshman when she was crowned as UB’s Homecoming Queen in 1963. She insists she never saw it coming. “I was running against upperclassmen, sorority girls who were being coached.”

The court was announced at the pep rally the night before the football game against Boston University. Fierson, a biology major from North Woodmere, Long Island, says she was disappointed at first that she wasn’t named one of the princesses of the court. “Then they crowned me queen, and I was shocked! My poor parents had to find a quick flight to Buffalo.”

On the big day, Fierson remembers “waiting and waiting” to take her first helicopter ride—a short trip across campus to the football field. It landed her on the 50-yard line during halftime, where a waiting ROTC cadet met her and walked her over to meet then-UB President Clifford C. Furnas in front of a cheering crowd. “It was really thrilling,” she says.

She was so excited, in fact, that she says she can’t recall the rest of the game. (The Bulls “whipped Boston,” according to the Buffalonian yearbook.)

Fierson claims her social life changed after becoming queen. “I loved it. It was the first time in my life to be recognized like that.” She volunteered at Fall Weekend and got a paying job as a campus tour guide.

After UB, Fierson went on to earn a PhD in biology and become a high school biology teacher. Now retired, she lives in southern California with her husband, Walter Fierson (BA ’67), a pediatric ophthalmologist. They returned to UB in October for the 2013 Homecoming celebration to help crown “UB’s Finest,” a new spin on the traditional royal court. “I felt like I was in a time machine and landed in the future,” Fierson says. “Everything was so different. The North Campus wasn’t even there when I was at UB, and now it has a beautiful football stadium!

“I hope more alumni come back, because UB is a place that changed my life,” she adds, noting that, as a teacher, she always encouraged her students to go away to college. “It’s good to get out of your environment. It widens your horizons.”