What does Homecoming mean, and what's the point? Well, for current students, Homecoming is mostly a time to have fun.
Situated after midterms and before Thanksgiving break, it's the perfect excuse to party, enjoy the University-sponsored activities, cheer on the football team (they need it!) and maybe have your parents buy your groceries if they come to campus.
For alumni, it's a little different. In fact, homecomings are designed for alumni — the whole point is for past members of an organization to return and celebrate that organization. For University of Arizona alumni, whether they graduated last year or 50 years ago, this week is a chance to come home to the campus that helped shaped them into who they are today.
Perhaps they'll visit old professors, wander campus and reminisce about the shenanigans they used to get up to or just spend some time chatting with the friends and fellow alumni who have also come home.
However they chose to do it, they will spend the weekend remembering, and that's what Homecoming is really all about. It's about remembering the good times and bad, remembering the years and the laughs, smiles and tears in that time, and reaffirming your roots in Tucson and at the UA.
So for current students, maybe take the time to talk with the alumni that are flooding campus right now. Ask them what year they graduated, what school was like for them at the time.
Did they have a floor full of computers in the library? Who was the toughest professor? Which dorm did they live in? Ask them about what they did for Homecoming while they were a student here.
You'll find that these alumni will be more than willing to share the stories that are likely embedded deep into who they are. In fact, they'll probably love passing the stories on to a new generation of Wildcats.
We are a community with deep ties to the campus and the city, which is what our huge Homecoming celebration highlights.
So when you current students graduate, take the time to come back for Homecoming, at least once. You'll find it a very different event than what you experienced as a student.
The partying will still be there, maybe in different forms, but you might notice a deeper nostalgia, a connection with other alumni. It's more poignant than the connections you may have felt with other current students just because you're students.
That's the feeling of roots. It's the feeling of community bonds that reach deep down into each of us and then out to the world. There are a lot of UA graduates out there, and the Wildcat web reaches further than you might realize, but during Homecoming, you can almost feel it.
We're all here on campus because we're Wildcats. We went though this school and came out the other side smarter, wiser, or maybe just more tired, but we all did it.
Attending Homecoming is one of the best ways to remember where you came from, and maybe revitalize some dreams of where you want to go. Bear Down, Wildcats new and old, and happy Homecoming.
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