FSU’s Homecoming Weekend connects students and alumni: Athletic, dining, and other fun events brings campus community together

Noah Barnes / THE GATEPOST

FSU hosted its annual Homecoming Weekend with a variety of events, including sports games, the annual “Moonlight Breakfast,” and a “Friends and Family-Fest” carnival for students, alumni, and parents Sept. 20-21.

On Saturday, the FSU community met at Bowditch Field to cheer on the Framingham State football team as they played against Westfield State.

According to Eric Gustafson, vice president of development and alumni relations, Homecoming events (excluding the carnival) cost approximately $6,000, and was paid by the school entirely.

At the “Alumni End Zone” event at which approximately 150 students and alumni gathered close to the end of the field and enjoyed a free barbeque lunch.

Thomas Kelley, football coach and athletics director, said athletics are a vital part of the relationship between alumni and students. 

“I just think it’s a great time for the campus to show off, and there’s a lot of guys coming back for the first time, people traveling long distances, and they see the campus and they’re really impressed with how beautiful it is and how much it’s changed since they’ve been here,” he said.

Kelley added, “It’s a time for those guys to appreciate the guys who have already been here and built what we have right now.”

This past weekend’s game marked the 100th win of Kelley’s career at Framingham State.

Kelley also had the opportunity to reconnect with many alumni athletes from the 70s and 80s.

“We tweeted out a picture this weekend and I was standing with our all-time leading rusher. He was the all-time leading rusher in New England, a big-time player. … I love to see those guys come back and reminisce even for a short bit of time.

“It was kind of a cool day for me,” Kelley said.

On Friday evening, SUAB and SGA co-hosted the “Friends and Family Fest,” a carnival with rides, games, and food trucks. Free food vouchers were given to the first 200 students who came.

The budget for the carnival was $13,000, according to Sara Gallegos, director of SILD.

Members of SUAB and SGA worked the event, operating carnival games such as “Tumble Alley” and “Axe Throw.” The rides included twirling teacups and rotating swings.

Gallegos said homecoming strengthens the relationship between students and alumni.

“It’s about the sharing of the campus community. It’s bringing together students, faculty, staff, alumni – even the greater Framingham area – to come together and celebrate Framingham State,” she said.

Gallegos added, “I would say there’s probably a little more work to be done on both sides. I work directly with the students – they’re my priority – but we can have a bunch of student groups working more closely with the alumni, and vice versa. 

“There’s a lot of opportunities to bring alumni in to work with the students,” she said.

Matty Bennet, a senior and SGA president, said he thinks this year’s events were “so much better” than last year’s.

“Moonlight Breakfast is everyone’s jam, and I am so incredibly excited for this,” he said. “This carnival, I couldn’t have expected it would look this good.

“I think it’s just a great event – even with [the risk of] EEE,” he added.

Mark Haskell, a freshman international business major, said, “I came out to homecoming to have a change of pace. … My goal these four years is to go out and have some fun sometimes.”

Mitchell Distefano, a freshman, said homecoming “shows a sense of pride in the school and that we are a real community here, that everyone accepts each other.”

Kyle Glinner, a freshman communication arts major, said, “You’re going to be here for the next four years. These are the people you’re going be with, so it’s good to communicate and make new friends.”

James McColley, a sophomore sociology major, said, “I think it’s important because it gets everyone together. It’s a fun place to interact with people, meet new people, show people around, and show what Framingham has to offer.”

Over at the Danforth Museum, Gufstafson’s office hosted alumni award ceremony Sept. 21 at which Wanda Monta received the “Inclusive Excellence Award,” given to those who display “distinguished achievement in their chosen field, has championed issues of diversity, equality and inclusion, and has supported the Framingham community,” said Gustafson.

Approximately 60 people attended the event, he added.

“The Alumni Association gives out a number of alumni achievement awards every year, which recognize alumni who have had great successes since they’ve left. … There’s a Leadership and Service award [and] a professional achievement award,” among others,” Gustafson said.

The “Inclusive Excellence Award” is the newest award, and members of the FSU community submitted nominations to the alumni board of directors, which then reviews the candidates and selects the recipient, Gustafson added.

“The decision was made to present this one at Homecoming because we have our Alumni of Color Network,” he said.

The network is one of many affinity groups that exists among faculty, staff, and alumni – a space created several years ago for alumni of color to connect and share their experiences during and after their time at Framingham State. 

The other Alumni Association awards will be presented next June during alumni reunion weekend.

Moonlight Breakfast is an FSU tradition at which the community gathers at the McCarthy Dining Commons to enjoy late-night breakfast cuisine. 

Naomi Zingher ’15, said, “I loved Framingham State. I have made so many friends here. I’m now lifelong friends with a lot of my classmates – but also my professors, and even the [security officer] who walks the campus.”

She offered advice to students, saying, “Take your time. It’s going to work out – don’t stress too much.”