UNM student Tanley McMullan spent the past week tending to buckets of mealworms in her living room, taking her duck Daisy for leashed walks and campaigning for UNM’s homecoming queen.

“It’s just so fun,” she said. “It’s fun, fun, fun.”

McMullan, a 52-year-old education student, is the only candidate over the age of 30. She said she was convinced to run for homecoming by members of the Association of Non-Traditional Students (ANTS) — of which she is a member — after she drank too much root beer and got overexcited. When she “came to,” she decided it would be a fun thing to do because of her age and student status.

“We were talking about it, wouldn’t it be wild to do it at my age?” she said. “I’m still laughing about it.”

She submitted her application and at the first meeting told the other queen contenders that she is 103 years old and arrived on the back of a brontosaurus. Her submitted photo is of her walking Daisy, her pet duck.

“I figure those girls (queen contenders) are cute as buttons, but not quite as cute as my duck,” she said.

Vice President of ANTS David Drezner said the organization has supported McMullan since she decided to run.

“I think it’s cool that she’s running, I think it’s cool that we get some visibility. Maybe she’ll win,” Drezner said.

Drezner said McMullan’s run has helped raise awareness of ANTS among younger students.

“It’s really important that we have some kind of presence at the University so that people can know that if they need an area that’s not normal undergraduate kind of fun-in-the-sun kind of thing, that you get a more mature kind of relationship here,” he said.
McMullan has pursued a degree in positive psychology at UNM over the past 30 years. Her educational path has been a long one, interspersed with years outside the University working to raise money for class or taking care of her mother, but her graduation date is set for next spring.

McMullan is an underdog — her Facebook page has 34 likes compared to the other pages’ average of 200 followers — but that hasn’t deterred her. She has recently purchased a vintage UNM T-shirt and said she plans to wear it at today’s pep rally in the SUB, where the names of the top three court nominees will be announced.

“Things are too serious,” she said. “Where’s the fun if you’re young? It’s when you’re a million years old that it’s more fun.”

As other homecoming hopefuls solicited votes Wednesday outside the SUB dressed in suits and gowns, McMullan put up a few handmade fliers and sang an original karaoke version of Puff the Magic Dragon to passers-by in the SUB. She made up new lyrics to the end of the song to make it happier — Puff got a girlfriend, and frolicked with her in the autumn mist.

“You have to have something nontraditional now and then, you have to break out of the mold, and if you take these things too seriously you’re going to land up having a heart attack before your time,” she said. “And every now and then the sororities and fraternities and serious people have just got to let loose and drink a keg of root beer.”