A Welcome Return During Homecoming 2009
By Andrew B. Jones, senior, School of Communications;
intern, Office of University Communications
Homecoming is an event-filled week for the entire community, but also serves as an irreplaceable reunion for the Howard family. The events are planned by the Homecoming Steering Committee, which is comprised predominantly of students and their advisors in the Office of Student Activities. They plan marquee events such as the fashion show, step show, Yardfest and parade, as well as smaller events like the international showcase and royal court mixer. The theme of this year’s celebration was Rhythm: The Pulse of the People.
“Howard has its own sound and rhythm to the world,” said Tyler Pride, a senior political science major and Homecoming coordinator. “Homecoming is a revival and celebration of that beat.”
The sounds and rhythms of laughter and excitement permeated the campus last month, as members of the Howard family greeted each other throughout the week. For current students and members of the Washington, D.C., community, Homecoming is an entertaining distraction from daily routines. However, for alumni of all ages the events take on an even greater role.
“The events are opportunities to connect with alumni that may not have been on campus when I was here, and to connect with the Howard network,” said Jabari Smith, a 2007 graduate who recently returned from Japan for his first Homecoming as an alumnus.
More than the events, the culture surrounding Homecoming provides a poignant purpose for the week’s festivities. “Homecoming is about coming back to the place that gave you the opportunities and experiences that couldn’t be gained anywhere else,” said Smith. “Alumni are coming back to share stories of where life has taken them beyond Howard, to reminisce, recollect and reflect on the great times that they had.”
Barbara Anderson, a 1966 graduate, agreed, noting that alumni feel the need to return to the place where they developed into adults and established friendships. “The friendships you make here are bonds you make for life. One of the ways to continue to have that bond is to come back to Howard,” she said.
Anderson and other alumni who graduated during the 1960s host a reception each year in the Armour Blackburn Center during Homecoming weekend. Dressed to impress, armed with classic Howard swagger, former classmates gather for food, dancing and reminiscing.
“The reception is a wonderful opportunity to come back to experience fellowship, reunite and reminisce about the good old days,” said Anderson. “We look forward to this, and each year it’s grown.”
Paul Smith, a 1966 Pharm.D. and 1989 M.B.A. alumnus, is the committee chair of the annual function. An active student in the 1960s—he worked on the Hilltop and the yearbook—he helped to establish the event and is thrilled that every year more and more of his former classmates attend the celebration.
“The event has really turned into a place where we can go during Homecoming and reconnect with our friends and with our school,” Smith said. “After all of these years, we still want to be connected with our school.”
To current students, alumni highlight the excitement of returning home and realizing how much they have grown and how much they miss the Howard experience. For Smith, Homecoming 2009 was beyond amazing, and he plans to return for many years to come.
For Kristen Williams, a 2009 graduate, Homecoming was refreshing. “Looking back on my experience holistically and where I am today makes me proud that I went to Howard and it felt good to come home,” she said.
Click the video icon to hear about Homecoming 2009.
Note: A special thank you to the Radio, TV and Film Department, John H. Johnson School of Communications.