This year, many traditional college activities are nearly impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Emory & Henry College adapted to those challenges to continue with its homecoming festivities.
Beginning in October, E&H has events planned every week, most of which will take place online. Monica Hoel, Alumni Director, explained that while this change has been unexpected, it hasn’t been a negative experience.
“We’ve done things the same way for a long time. … In some ways a virtual homecoming has been a really fun challenge,” Hoel said.
Hoel also expressed that these online activities might allow more people to take part in annual homecoming festivities than normally would be able to.
“People who don’t live here don’t always get to come. If we can find a few events that people like and enjoy participating in, we might continue to do those things going forward,” she said.
One of the main events scheduled is a town hall meeting with President Wells, where he will answer questions and give updates on the semester.
Hoel says she fully expected this event to be the activity with the most attendance, but the event with the most participants signed up (so far) turned out to be surprising.
“More people have signed up for the virtual trip to France than have signed up for anything else so far,” she said.
Every detail of the schedule has been planned for a reason, including why France was chosen as the location of the tour.
“Down the hill from Wiley Hall, there’s a granite or marble box that was put there in 1887. On the side, there’s a plaque from 1918 when Lafayette’s (French aristocrat who fought in the Revolutionary War) great-great-grandson visited campus and planted a tree,” she said. “We’re going to tour a bit of Lafayette’s hometown and some of the places where he lived as a child.”
There are also many contests to take part in, including a competition to see who owns the oldest E&H apparel, and a pet photo contest. There will also be a driveway tailgate contest, with a very exciting guest judge.
“We have a former student (Mike De Los Santos) who has just started a business called ‘Mike D’s BBQ,’ and he has also been on the Discovery Channel on a show called ‘I Quit.’ He’s going to be our special guest judge for the driveway tailgate contest,” Hoel said.
Along with these opportunities, there are open houses for prospective students to attend, allowing them to ask questions and learn more about the Mass Communication and Athletics departments.
There will also be conversations with alumni of different careers, including librarians interviewing alumni who have become authors, and a talk given by a senior recruiter for Charter Communications, a major mass media organization.
These types of conversations aren’t limited to homecoming as there are many available on the alumni website, and could provide a learning and networking opportunity for E&H students.
“It’ll be a busy month as there’s something for everyone to enjoy; we welcome students to do anything and everything,” Hoel said.
Though the events may be diverse, she says they all serve the same purpose.
“These events are a way to get people’s attention, and do something a little different. Maybe allow people to, hopefully, reconnect with the college in a meaningful way,” she said. “We want this to be about reconnecting with the college and being proud of what the students and faculty are doing.”
For a full schedule of the upcoming homecoming events, visit: https://www.ehc.edu/alumni/events/homecoming/.