Homecoming reunites Unionites

Lauren Surwic (left), senior elementary education major, and Emily Clement, freshman nursing major, play water games for candy prizes with local children during Union’s Homecoming events held on the Great Lawn. | Photo by Abigail Harris

By Courtney Searcy

The stands are filled with red and black. The queen dons her crown, and watches along with her court as fans cheer on the Bulldogs to victory. The event marks the end of a week filled with tradition and activities.

The scene depicts the close of Union’s Homecoming Week 2010, held Nov. 1-6.

Events throughout the week entertained students, and let alumni reconnect and reminisce with their Alma mater.

A wide variety of impersonators from Titanic to southern chef Paula Deen packed the Bowld Student Commons on Oct. 31 to kick off the festivities at Costume Coffee House.

The week progressed with two relatively new traditions for students: the eighth annual Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service, and the fourth annual CANstruction Dodgeball Tournament fundraiser for the Regional Inter-Faith Association.

“Movie in the Bowld” provided a break from studying on Nov. 4, allowing students to relax during the showing of “Despicable Me.”

The Dave Barnes concert kicked off the weekend events in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel on Nov. 5.

While students were busy   participating in the events of the week, many were unaware of the history being revived among alumni.

This year the class of 1961 celebrated their 50 year reunion, giving them a chance to reconnect and remember days gone by.

The reunion included a bus tour of Union’s former downtown Jackson location, where buildings the group once knew as Union University are now office buildings and apartments.

“I’ve only been to the new campus two or three times, and it is overwhelming to see the growth that Union has made. As I come to the old campus and try to visualize where all of the buildings were, it brings back all those old memories,” said Joyce Walls Krettler, class of 1961 member.

As they walked the halls of what is now a juvenile court building, they remembered what they knew as the Student Union Building.  The SUB held the cafeteria and chapel among other things, and provoked plenty of stories of white knuckles while speaking in a chapel service and sharing a meal with friends.

Among other groups of alumni meeting this year, the Campus Ministries reunion was a new group to be part of the activities.

When Patti Damesworth, graduate of the class of 1981 uploaded a photo of a group of students from the Baptist Student Union on Facebook, it sparked discussion of having a reunion for the group.

“Everyone sat, looked through annuals and remembered old friends and things they had done, like the ‘Great Water Fight of 1981,’” Dameworth said.

Whether the alumni graduated five years ago or 50, the change and growth at Union throughout the years was a prevailing theme of conversation throughout the weekend.

The busiest day of the weekend came Saturday, since events for students and alumni overlapped.

Red and white tents dotted the Great Lawn, housing Arts in the Park and food vendors for the pre-game tailgate.

During the halftimes of the basketball games, the Homecoming Court, Queen and Presidential Homecoming Cup recipients were announced.

Emily Logan, senior music performance major, was announced as the homecoming queen. The court consisted of Ashley Smith, freshman business administration major; Hillary Craft, sophomore public relations major; Anna Ezell, junior intercultural studies major; Stephanie Sowell, senior elementary education major; Kari Beougher, senior social work major; and Brooke Laws, senior athletic training major.

The Homecoming Cup, given to an organization “that has demonstrated outstanding service to the community,” was awarded to the men of Lambda Chi Alpha for their involvement with RIFA. This year was the first time the cup was awarded based on community service.

Honorable mentions were given to the International Justice Mission and Social Work Reaches Out.

“I cannot imagine what Jackson would be like without Union,” said Belinda Mays, member of the class of 1973.

Homecoming will continue to celebrate the impact the university has made on the lives of students, alumni and the Jackson community.

“Union gave a poor farm girl a chance to realize her dreams. I am so grateful Union was there for me, and in a sense it has always been and will be. Union will always be in your heart,” Krettler said.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.