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Alumni reunion teams with Family Day for festive weekend

Published on October 05, 2022

Alumni reunion teams with Family Day for festive weekend

Members of the Class of ’72 (left to right, front row): Carol (Seaton) DesSureault, Candace (Burns) Aleks, Jennifer Malone, Almyra (Tefft) Hornberger (Back Row) Ronald Ormiston, Mary Jame (Larson) Traska, Richard Kohls, Kathleen (Brown) Fabian, Nancy (Gratson) Souza

President Núñez visits with alumni.

Kathleen (Brown) Fabian and Mary Jane (Larson) Traska carried the Class of 1972 banner to lead the Alumni March.

Willie the Warrior and the Eastern Dance Team announce the arrival of the Alumni March!

Crowded around the main concourse of the Student Center, students and their families cheered as Eastern’s alumni paraded through the building with festive balloons and placards indicating their graduating classes. The Alumni could not contain their smiles as 1970s hit “Welcome Back” echoed through the building. 

Eastern hosted its annual reunion weekend on Sept. 30–Oct. 1. For the first time in the school’s history, "Eastern Celebrates" occurred simultaneously with “Family Day,” to bring students, families and alumni together like never before for a weekend of festivities.

The reformatted events and co-mingling incited campus-wide discussion about a variety of changes that have transformed Eastern over the years. Despite these changes, Eastern still serves as a unifying force among the entire university community.

Parents and alumni from older generations were not the only attendees who were pleasantly surprised by the school’s contemporary innovations. Recent graduates were equally awestruck. “It’s crazy. I don’t recognize anyone else here,” said the event’s musical performer and recent graduate James Heath Ringhouse `18. “Everyone that I went to school with, including freshmen when I was a senior, have graduated. But it’s cool seeing all the families together. It makes me remember the old times I had here, but so much has already changed since then. Either way, I’m just glad to be back at this awesome event.”

Director of Alumni Affairs Michael Stenko addresses alumni and families.

The Class of ’72 lines up for the Alumni March.

Family Day patrons gather in the Betty Tipton Room.

“Take a Photo with Alumni”: Evelyn Senna ’21 helps this family check another item off the list in the Eastern Celebrates Family Photo Challenge.

The event itinerary included more than 25 activities that spanned the duration of the two-day reunion. The weekend began in the Betty R. Tipton Room with a reunion of current and former student center workers celebrating 15 years since the student center was renovated and expanded. Later that night, Eastern also encouraged alumni from the classes of 2012-22 to meet at Blarney’s Café as they became reacquainted with their classmates at the 'Young Alumni Bash.’

Current student Zach Robinson and his father said some of their favorite highlights were the volleyball game, enjoying mac n’ cheese at the barbeque and taking family photos at CAB’s magnetic picture station. However, they were most impressed with the event’s hospitable atmosphere.

“It's been a great experience,” said Robinson. “Everyone here has been super sociable, welcoming and kind which has created such a friendly environment for me and my family. The helpfulness of everyone we’ve met and the opportunity to connect with other students and parents is amazing.”

Saturday’s activities included the Alumni Reunion Reception hosted by President Elsa Núñez, class photos, a photo scavenger hunt, the Alumni-March, a barbeque, three sporting events, campus walking tours, planetarium shows and many other activities.

“We always have fun whenever we come back to Eastern,” said Penny Tracey `76, as her husband Tim echoed her sentiment with an enthusiastic “Oh Yeah!” She continued by saying, “It’s so nice to see the campus and how it’s grown and changed. It’s quite amazing. We think Dr. Núñez has done a fantastic job and Dr. Carter before her, too.”

President Elsa Núñez welcomes alumni and families to the Alumni Reunion Reception.

As a senior, Mary Jane (Larson) Traska served represented her class as a Senator. Fifty years later, she represented her class at its Golden Jubilee Reunion.

More than 600 students, families and alumni turned out for Eastern Celebrates Alumni and Family Day.

Tim Tracey `77, Penny’s husband who also received his master’s degree from Eastern in 1990, joked that he should have anticipated some changes after 47 years. “It was fun going to check out Shafer. Every time we see it, we are both amazed by how different it is. It doesn't look anything like it used to in 1977.”

Almyra Hornberger `72 agrees with the Tracy's sentiments. She said that her favorite part about coming back to Eastern is witnessing all its “breathtaking and astounding” changes, “Oh my God! The campus is so different now,” said Hornberger. “The building that is now the Smith Library was not there when we attended school. Shafer Hall is also a dorm now, but it certainly wasn't when we attended. In fact, Shafer had a commuter lounge that had a gigantic open room where students would see friends, do work, or chat.”

Carole Desereux, one of Hornberger’s classmates from the class of `72 says that Noble Hall has changed the most since she attended college. “When I first started, Noble was an elementary school,” said Desereux. “When we came back for the 40th reunion, it was no longer an elementary school, but a resident hall. Shafer Hall is also a dorm now, but it certainly wasn't when we attended.”

Despite these changes, the Traceys say that Eastern has retained one of its most alluring values — its ability to bring people together — which is why they return to campus at least once a year. “It’s been 45 years now, but it all started here,” said Tim Tracey. “And after all that time, we still know a lot of couples who met here on campus. Eastern’s just always seemed to make all kinds of connections for folks.”

Although Almyra Hornberger may not be able to attend next year, she hopes that every student, parent and graduate tries to return to Eastern’s ever-changing campus that brings people together. “At my age, I’m just not sure if I’ll ever be able to make it down here again. So, I'm grateful that I was not only able to see my friends, but my campus again.”

Written by Jack Jones