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The Community of Homecoming: A Reflection on Annual Alumni Reunion

      Each year, Eastern and its alumni office host a spectacular homecoming event filled with fundraisers, club advertisements, and, of course, reunions.

       Last year, I only knew of homecoming weekend as a day of club tables and a night filled with dancing. This was definitely one facet of homecoming. There are numerous club tables showing the progress of Eastern’s student activities. And, yes there is a homecoming dance, but  something was still missing. Sure I knew that there were many alums of Eastern at homecoming, but I, being a freshman, did not know a single one of them.

      I guess my real homecoming experience did not happen until this year rolled around. On Oct. 14, I found myself ecstatic to reunite with an Eastern alum who had a huge effect on my life and journey with majoring in English — Jill Murphy. Last year, I met the then senior, Murphy, as she was one of my Odyssey Online editors. In a short amount of time, I became impressed with her ability to write so beautifully, in a style that I am currently trying to master. She was not only a fantastic writer, but she also had mastered being a caring individual who took me and my roommate under her wing as “baby English majors.” I was sad to see her graduate and leave in May, having known her only a year. However, she and I did our best at staying in contact via social media and text messages. But, as homecoming came around the corner, I made it my job to dedicate the day to Murphy. As she arrived on campus, she could only think of one word to describe all that she was feeling.

      “Surreal–that’s the word that automatically comes to mind; I can’t think of a more suitable term. Attending EU for four years, graduating in May, and not coming back to campus until homecoming, reminded me of professors, classes, friends, meals, and Wawa-runs that shaped part of my life. I wouldn’t necessarily say visiting my alma mater felt like being at home, but there was a familiar, comforting vibe upon returning,” Murphy said.

      Eastern has a unique way of making community between seniors and freshmen– now sophomores and alumni. This community was what I was missing last year. I found community in showing Murphy all that has changed in the five short months she had been gone. I found community over Easy Risers at the Jammin’ Java as Murphy and I laughed at our nerdy English jokes and reflected on her life outside of college. However, Murphy and I did make time to reflect on what she missed most about Eastern.

      “[I miss] the people–particularly seeing my friends every day and getting to live with my crazy roommates, but also saying ‘hi’ to Tony and Bill in the Dining Commons. This might also sound weird, and definitely nerdy, but I also miss the college atmosphere — staying up late then going to class exhausted, writing papers, and ordering Insomnia,” Murphy said.

       Unlike my freshman self, I now see the power of homecoming weekend. I currently see myself thinking about my current senior friends — although I hope to see them plenty of other times, I cannot help but think about my excitement to show them their legacy in the years of homecoming that are yet to come.

      Homecoming is a time to continue the community-building Eastern thrives on. Community is celebrated at homecoming, but starts during your first four years here on campus.

       Murphy reflected, “as an undergraduate, I wish I would’ve focused my attention more on building and maintaining relationships within the campus, rather than concentrating on my studies and external relationships.  Once senior year hit, I realized that I only had a limited amount of time with these people, so I tried spending every possible minute with them that time allowed, and I don’t regret that.”

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