From Sept. 28 to 30, Kenyon students were joined by 250 alumni to celebrate Homecoming, a three-day celebration featuring professional networking, scavenger hunts, a mechanical pumpkin and more.
This year marked Kenyon’s 100th Homecoming celebration, a collaborative effort between the Office of Student Engagement, Social Board, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Kenyon Athletics, the Career Development Office and Alumni Relations. According to Assistant Director of Alumni & Parent Engagement Cameron Ingram, this year’s event aimed to spark new enthusiasm for the tradition in alumni and students alike by including events that appealed to a wide range of athletic, academic and extracurricular interests. “The hard [question] we had to ask ourselves was how do we build this weekend to be inclusive for every individual that would like to attend and participate. Not only for this year, but years to come,” Ingram wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Homecoming kicked off with the Sept. 28 Greek Council philanthropy fair, where Kenyon’s eight Greek life organizations set up booths offering attractions such as fortune telling with The Archon Society and “Pie a Theta” with Theta Delta Phi. Each group accepted donations for a specific charity, with several groups raising funds for local organizations such as New Directions and Center of Hope. Following the philanthropy event, participants could enjoy free refreshments throughout campus, with two wine tastings in The Gund and a ‘Late Night Pizza Arcade’ in Gund Commons. To end the evening, the Mount Vernon Fire Department supervised a bonfire outside of Gund Commons, where attendees could snack on caramel apples and smoothies as they chatted by the fire.
Beyond free food and beverages, a driving focus of the weekend was combining student interests with alumni career experience in both casual social mixers and professional networking events. Students looking to expand their professional knowledge and connections could visit a series of talks hosted by alumni, which included speakers from Meta, American Automobile Association (AAA) and the U.S. Space Systems Command. The focus of each talk or networking event varied greatly, with some addressing how to obtain careers in tech with a liberal arts background and others seeking to connect students and alumni of color. “I think there was really an eclectic array of opportunities and creative elements. We were doing a lot of sessions, which I think is wonderful for students and recent alum[ni],” Vice President of Student Affairs Celestino Limas said in an interview with the Collegian.
On Saturday, alumni flocked to the Lowry Center for a block party with mini golf, bubble soccer and free frisbees. To usher in the fall season, Social Board also set up a mechanical pumpkin for more adventurous attendees. Shortly after the block party, the Kenyon football team earned its first win of the season in a home game against Hiram College, with a final score of 40-16. According to team captain Jaden Stewart ’25, the enthusiasm the team generated in practice leading up to the Homecoming game was instrumental in their success — in addition to the presence of friends, family and alumni. “The energy that we built in practice just carried over to the game,” Stewart wrote in an email to the Collegian. “The vibe around Homecoming helped a bit as well too, knowing family and friends would come out and support, including a few alumni that would come out and give some encouraging words.”
After attending athletic events, participants interested in taking a moment to reflect in nature took part in several quieter activities scattered throughout campus, including a Family Nature Quest geared toward the creation of “sound maps” and a scavenger hunt through Marriot Park. Those looking to both hone their horticultural skills and make a more permanent mark on the Hill could also participate in a Campus Beautification Project, where attendees planted dogwood trees and flower bulbs on lawns across campus.
From opportunities to raise funds for local charitable organizations to the chance to beautify the campus, according to Ingram, Homecoming’s diverse range of events created a memorable experience for all attendees. “I believe as campus partners we have created a recipe for that success and Homecoming will play an immense role in Kenyon’s future,” he wrote. “It’s a great opportunity for alumni to gather on campus each fall and for current students to network with alumni in an organic way while enjoying all of the festivities and camaraderie the Kenyon community has to offer.”