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You may have noticed a startling amount of strangers on campus in your classrooms, in the DC and in your dorms over the past few days. Each year, Homecoming weekend brings alumni to campus to reminisce and indulge nostalgia of the college days. Current students enjoy the sense of community and camaraderie that Westmont offers on a daily basis—and this weekend, over 400 alumni RSVP’d to re-experience and remember this bond.
For Marcy Tuttle, ’58, who is celebrating her 65th class reunion, coming to Westmont was “a good way for me to get away from home and be my own person . . . I made a lot of wonderful friends.”
Tuttle said that Westmont’s faith emphasis was “more refreshing” than the church she had grown up in, “a God I could understand. It’s a wonderful college, glad to be a part of it” she said. “. . . And we didn’t have music like this,” as the chapel band struck up, “We Lift Our Hands in the Sanctuary.”
Charlie Mehl,’ 73, said he “enjoyed that experience as an older alum, worshipping with the younger generation—it’s special . . . we’re all one in Christ, yeah?”
The events of this year’s homecoming fit the themes “remember, rediscover, rejoice and reconnect,” said Teri Bradford Rouse, director of alumni and parent relations, as well as reflecting Westmont’s emphasis on a global focused education and global-mentality for students after they graduate. “So, we try to build programs around those . . . and we have a lot of really great, fun activities, as well as activities that connect them back to their time at Westmont.”
On Friday Oct. 4 the alumni checked in, attended chapel with Alistair Begg — who addressed the crowd on the book of Esther and God’s purpose for believers, sat-in on classes across the disciplines, attended a barbecue on Kerrwood Lawn and, in the evening, were treated to a school-wide Homecoming dance. Students mingled with a diverse crew of alumni, as they learned the Charleston and the basic steps of swing.
“The dance is really fun,” said Ruth Musson Clayton ’98, who attended for her 15th class reunion. “Everyone looks so nice, all the students that dressed up . . . [it] looks really classy.”
At the dance, third-year Emily Rutherford said that through homecoming “we are reminded that we aren’t the only people who have had the privilege and opportunity to study and be a part of the wonderful Westmont community.”
This year, besides hosting the first ever alumni-student on campus dance, the parent and alumni relations office designed a new, interactive website that allowed guests to register for events à
la carte. The alumni reunion brunch on Saturday morning was sold out — 175 seats. The office also put together a carnival with snow cones, popcorn, a photobooth and inflatable bounce houses, with the help of Emmaus Road, Potter’s Clay and WASC. Alumni attended their specific class reunions throughout the day, and during the men’s and women’s soccer games, those who had graduated within the past 10 years enjoyed a tailgate party on the observatory deck. The group, along with many students, watched and cheered together when the women’s basketball team received rings for their national championship win during halftime.
“The point is, to give [alumni] an opportunity to reconnect with one another and to reconnect with the college,” said Rouse. “There’s a lot of great affinity and gratitude that our alums have towards the college and we want to give them an opportunity to be here and celebrate God’s faithfulness in their lives and the life of the college over the years.”
The well-attended President’s brunch included a ceremony to present the Young Alumni Award to Rachel Goble ’05 for her work on the SOLD project to fight child trafficking in Northern Thailand, the Global Service Award to Brent and Allyson Searway ’85 for their involvement with Agua Viva Ministries in Mexico and service with Potter’s Clay and the Alumnus of the Year award to Robin Wainwright ’64, former Urban Program director, who has ministered in the Middle East since 1992.
Goble pointed out that her mixed interests in marketing and photography didn’t seem to correlate at first, but has since learned that “success is the small choices that you make on a daily basis that add up to the moments that get recognition,” she said. “But it’s not the moments of recognition that truly matter – it’s the journey in getting there. And Westmont was a huge part of that journey.”
Each alum acknowledged the importance of a global minded-mentality. “I’m really glad I didn’t squander my life in selfish desires, but that I invested it in kingdom work, in the global work that I learned here at Westmont…I just praise God for that,” said Brent Searway.
Dr. Beebe called attention to the global outlook of the Westmont community — homecoming is not just a time to celebrate what God has done through America, but through the world. He said, “part of the mission of Westmont is not only to educate and prepare today’s students for all that they will face, but to look ahead and say where’s the world going and what role we need to play in preparing our students to serve effectively in whatever area of life God calls them.”