Tech celebrates historic first Homecoming on Beckley campus
WVU Tech’s annual Homecoming celebration was hosted on the Beckley campus October 2-7, 2017. The week’s activities included events and competitions for alumni, students, employees and members of the community inspired by the theme “Home is Where the Bear is.”
The week officially kicked off with the State of Tech address in Carter Hall. Campus President Carolyn Long announced record-breaking enrollment and retention numbers, noting that the University had exceeded its enrollment goal, counting more than 1,600 students among its ranks for the fall semester.
For those more than 1,600 Golden Bears, Homecoming offered a wide range of campus activities. Students participated in the annual Campus Cup, where they faced off in outdoor games and tug of war, competed in a burrito eating contest hosted by Qdoba and teamed up to take on trivia challenges.
On Friday, October 6, students spent the day with alumni, donors and WVU Tech supporters in a series of events at Carter Hall.
The University hosted a scholarship luncheon where students, their families, employees and scholarship donors met to enjoy lunch and catch up. Scholarship recipients were recognized for their achievements and some even met with the individual donors who provided their scholarships.
Friday evening’s event brought in 65 students, employees and alumni for an etiquette dinner hosted by WVU Tech Career Services and the office of Alumni Relations. Attendees learned the rules of etiquette for business dining with a special focus on how to impress during job interviews over food. WVU Tech employees and alumni sat with students to give them an opportunity to ask questions and practice their newfound skills in a formal setting.
Stacey Fragile, a 1996 Tech grad and newly elected president of the Tech Golden Bear Alumni Association, said that the organization has plans to increase this kind of involvement over the next five years to better connect the Association with current students.
"Back in August, we had a strategic meeting and we set a new mission statement. Our plan for the next five years is to be a bridge between the older alumni, new alumni and current students. So what I really want to do over the next year is work on building that bridge and getting more people involved," she said.
That buzz in the air
Fragile said that Homecoming on the new campus was one of the best she’d seen and that she was glad to see such excitement on campus.
"Homecoming has been amazing. The town is happy to have us here. I'm a Beckley girl, so I'm happy to have us here. I can only see bigger and better things for us here because we have such community support," she said.
That community support was evident on Saturday morning. On South Kanawha Street, which runs through the heart of campus, more than 40 groups participated in the Homecoming parade. The crowd included a number of student groups and nearly a dozen community organizations.
Matt Mooney, a physician’s assistant in Beckley, was at the parade with his wife and two children.
“We heard there was a parade going on and we wanted to see everyone here from the community and meet folks from the campus. We just wanted to be involved,” he said.
A lifelong area resident, Mooney said that he’s been thrilled to see campus come to life.
"It's good for the community and I think we need something downtown to bring it back. I think it's turned out even better than I thought it would. There are students everywhere and they seem like they're involved and active in the community. I think it's great," he said.
"It was a great day today,” he added. “We're excited to have WVU Tech here and we hope people in the community will do everything they can to support them."
Following the parade, more than 300 students, community members and visitors on campus for an admissions open house attended a picnic in the Van Meter gymnasium.
For alumni like Lindsay Davis, ’15, seeing the excitement was worth the trip to campus. Davis works from the University of Dayton Research Institute as a contractor in Georgia. She drove ten hours to attend Homecoming.
"It was the first one at the new location and I wanted to be here to show my support for the university,” she said. “And how many times in your life do you get to say you attended the very first of something?"
She said she and her husband Robin, who is also a Tech grad, stay in touch with a lot of the classmates and faculty members they met along the way. She said she’s glad to see that the campus community is still so close-knit.
"At the end of the day, what made the experience memorable was the little things, like being able to chat with the dean about my classes and the people I met and worked with. That's why you remember your university and it's so exciting to see how that's still happening for students here," she said.
How students won Homecoming
After the parade and picnic, the campus community gathered at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex for women’s and men’s soccer, where both teams chalked up shutout wins against Ohio Christian University.
Between games, the University announced members of the WVU Tech Homecoming Court with softball player MaKayla Waugh and basketball player Elisha Boone as Ms. and Mr. Golden Bear.
Waugh, a Health Science Administration major who graduates in December, is from Barboursville, West Virginia. She said that this was the most active Homecoming she had experienced in her years at Tech.
"It's coming together here. Things are running smoothly and there are a lot more students here,” she said. “It's cool to see people so involved and to see so many people participating in the campus cup and the parade.”
“The people were so welcoming and so excited to see everyone,” she added. “I think everyone is just excited to be a part of this."
She said that watching the parade run through campus was a point of pride for her and her fellow students.
"It was good for the first year, and I liked how this time everything was in front of the school so we could show it off and tell people that this is where we go to school," she said.
Students like Saul Montealegre, a senior Athletic Coaching Education major from Colombia, agreed.
"It's been great. I've seen a lot of new people and watched people here connecting and making new friends. It's just the beginning and you can already see a lot of improvements. There's a lot of diversity. There's a really a good future for the school, but then it's going to be even better than it is today," he said.
Montealegre said that Tech’s new location is particularly beneficial for residential and international students since most don't have vehicles on campus.
"There's so much to do and more life around the college, so I think people feel more like they're home. That's really good," he said.
Since campus is so close to Uptown Beckley, students like Montealegre were able to attend Saturday evening’s Beckley Chili Night activities. The University capped off the week of Homecoming with family-friendly booths and activities at the event, which drew in record-breaking participation.
WVU Tech’s own Chef Devin Godbey entered the popular chili contest, taking home third place in the organization category. WVU Tech also landed second place for most exciting booth.