‘Family’ a common theme of Homecoming & Reunion Weekend 2019

A weekend of reunions and celebrations brought thousands of alumni back to Elon for Homecoming 2019.

Elon Homecoming offers alumni the chance every year to relive old memories while making new ones with their closest friends and family. That was the case once again throughout Homecoming & Reunion Weekend 2019.

PHOTO GALLERY: Homecoming Weekend 2019

Thousands of alumni gathered at the All-Alumni Tailgate prior to Saturday’s football game.

Thousands of alumni from across the country returned to Elon for the chance to reunite with friends and classmates, growing their Elon family in the process.

“It’s a time to see old friends and make new ones,” said Ursula Warren G’15, who met Latricia Moore ’95 for the first time during a Homecoming event on Saturday.

“It’s always great to reconnect with people that we went to school with years ago,” Moore said. “But, it’s also so good to meet people that we didn’t necessarily go to school with who also came here for a great education. So it’s wonderful, it’s awesome.”

Warren and Moore later joined a celebration of classes, spanning across generations, at Saturday’s All-Alumni Tailgate on Lake Mary Nell Promenade. Tents filled with alumni from varying milestone reunion groups featured good food and conversation ahead of the football team’s Homecoming game against William & Mary.

Derrick L. Luster II (left) and Katherine Klinger (right) were named 2019 Homecoming Royalty.

The Elon community also celebrated two current students, as Homecoming Royalty were announced between the third and fourth quarters of Saturday’s game. Earning the most votes were Katherine Klinger ’20, who ran in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Derrick L. Luster II ’20, who volunteers with the Burlington Housing Authority.

Saturday’s tailgate and football game were part of a long list of Homecoming events, including dedications, awards ceremonies, open houses and other celebrations that offered alumni opportunities to enjoy fellowship with their Elon family.

Friday, Homecoming Weekend officially kicked off with “Rock the Block,” the annual community block party that features food, games, live music and a fireworks display in the heart of campus. During the event, Senior Director of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving Brian Feeley ’03 announced a reunion-giving total of $1,172,052.74 to be donated to the Elon LEADS campaign.

Friday also featured special celebrations for several alumni groups. The Class of 1969 was officially inducted into the Golden Alumni classification, marking the group’s 50th class reunion. Each member of the class received a medallion and pin during the annual Golden Alumni Luncheon to commemorate the milestone.

For John Papa ’69 and Kay Thomas Papa ’69, their 50th reunion was also a chance to celebrate the start of their love story. The two met as first-year students at Elon and began dating as seniors before marrying soon after.

“Kay and I were both saying the other day that it was definitely the best time of our lives, without a doubt,” John said. “When we think back at what we did and the four years that we had, it was a simpler time — no calculators, no computers, no cell phones — but we had a lot of fun.”

Homecoming Weekend offered friends and classmates a chance to reconnect at their alma mater.

Homecoming marked 10 years since graduation for Jessica Koch ’09. The former Fire of the Carolinas marching band member experienced her first Homecoming Weekend this year. As she enjoyed the afternoon at the All-Alumni Tailgate, Koch echoed a common theme of the weekend: the sense of family that comes with being part of the Elon community.

“It’s awesome, I’ve met so many people through my Tampa alumni chapter from so many class years,” Koch said. “One of my best friends here is Class of ’84. So, having that Elon connection, there’s always family everywhere you go.”

That sentiment could be felt throughout the weekend’s Homecoming events. Moore says groups like the Elon Black Alumni Network made her feel like she’s still an important part of her alma mater.

“They just make us feel like family,” she said. “It’s not like you’re walking back into some unknown atmosphere. They just welcome us, and we feel like we’re home.”

Meanwhile, Warren says she will always feel at home at Elon because of the university’s adherence to its core values.

Friends shared plenty of laughs during Homecoming Weekend 2019.

“Elon is definitely dedicated to moving forward, to supporting a diverse population with diverse ideas,” Warren said. “I’m definitely on board with that. I think that’s one of the things that made me want to come here.”

During Friday’s Golden Alumni Luncheon, President Connie Ledoux Book explained that the university will continue to promote its values while pushing forward to an even brighter future for Elon students and alumni to come.

“I am pleased to say that the heart of Elon remains the same as when you were enrolled here, and no matter how much we grow as a university, we’re holding onto those things that make Elon better, that are part of the things we love about this university,” Book said.