Homecoming traditions big part of UNA pride

Members of ROTC and the Pride of Dixie marching band take to the streets during 2012’s homecoming parade.  Homecoming 2015 festivities kicked off Oct. 13 and will end with the football game against University of North Carolina-Pembroke Oct. 17.

Apart from the highly anticipated football season each fall brings, college students and the local community look forward to homecoming.

People’s perception of homecoming varies, said Director of Advancement in the Office of Alumni Relations Carol Lyles.

“It gives the students an opportunity to celebrate a special weekend in the fall, but it (also) gives alumni a time to come home and remember what it was like when they were here as students,” she said.

Most of the students come back as groups depending on what they were involved in when they were still in school. The class of 1965 will be present for homecoming weekend, Lyles said.

“It’s just a time that they can reconnect and remember the best years of their lives,” she said. “That’s what homecoming is about. It is a heartwarming time to celebrate with the friends that you made while you were in school.”

Homecoming is the time of year alumni come back to school and spend time with the students. They just have a good time and reminisce, said junior Jonathan Barnett.

During homecoming, the school recognizes and honors alumni who have stood out in their careers, Lyles said.

“This time, we’re honoring international alumni Cagri Bagcioglu,” Lyles said. “He was actually a student here when I started working here (18 years ago), and he became the director of the international program at UNA. Now he is director of a program at a university in Turkey.”

UNA alumnus Stan Patterson will also be honored during this year’s homecoming.

Patterson graduated with a degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. He works with people who have lost their legs and limbs, Lyles said.

Dioramas that go back to 1948 show homecoming celebrations. There was only a homecoming queen until about 20 years ago when they introduced a homecoming king.

University Program Council Vice President Adam McCollum said he likes homecoming because students get together and have a good time.

UPC has a bonfire event to encourage the community and students coming together.

“(Homecoming) is just to get the people in the community and people who have been involved in the university back with the students and show them where they can go after they leave (school),” McCollum said.

There is a spirit challenge that goes on every year where different organizations on campus participate. There are three events in the spirit challenge: window painting competition, pep rally and parade competition, said senior and UPC Pro tempore Amanda Areostatico

“(Spirit challenge) is an incentive to be a part of UNA events,” she said. “It increases the school spirit, it makes them more active on campus and (helps students) connect with the community.”