Goshen College alumni returned to campus last weekend for Homecoming, celebrating their class reunions and catching up with old friends.It was a full weekend, with over 45 possible events on the official Homecoming schedule. Dan Koop Liechty, director of alumni engagement and international student advisor, said that “planning started intensifying in March … so that we can send out a paper brochure and registration form by July 1.”
The main goals of the weekend, said Koop Liechty, are to facilitate “meaningful and fun experiences” that connect alumni “to each other and the college.” He thought the goals were achieved and was “glad for great weather.”
One marker of meaningful reconnecting that pleased Koop Liechty was watching how those who came to the food trucks lingered in the Leadership Hub, the Leaf Raker and Hunsberger Commons “long after their food was gone,” he said. “That’s what the weekend’s about — reconnecting.”
Launa Leftwich, an alum who celebrated her 30th class reunion, spoke highly of the weekend. “It was renewing to be on campus,” she said, “[and] share again that part of Goshen that we enjoyed so much as students.”
Leftwich also worked at GC for 22 years, which helped her “appreciate how much work went into the weekend’s preparations.”
She specifically enjoyed getting a tour of the new communication wing, led by her classmate and associate professor of communication, Jason Samuel.
“Jason helped my friends and I record a station identification for The Globe,” Leftwich said, “which was really fun.”
Brenton Pham, a sophomore writing major, noticed that the weekend benefited the student experience, too.
“The food options at the dining hall were much better, and the campus just looked really nice,” he said. Pham also appreciated the full weekend schedule, with “much to do.”Another highlight for many was the Friday convocation, where five alumni awards were presented along with GC’s new mascot, Dash. The awards were voted on and approved by the alumni council.
Galen Graber, a member of the alumni council and class of 1983, explained that his role in the Homecoming Weekend was not one of planning but of “networking and learning more about the college’s mission so we can bring it home to our communities.”
The council is diverse in age, gender, ethnicity and location to help GC reach community members and potential students across the country.
Graber also participated in additional meetings about GC’s upcoming projects as part of the council this past weekend and said he was especially excited about the Westlawn renovations.
“Having had a daughter, wife, sister and sister-in-law graduate from the GC nursing program,” Graber said, “it’s exciting to think about the future of nursing here and how we can add enrollment in that department.”
For the weekend as a whole, Graber said that it was “so good to reconnect. The further away you are from graduating at Goshen, the connections you made there mean even more to you.”
“It’s not often you tell people how special they are to you during college,” Graber added, “So to run into someone and let them know they made a difference in your life was meaningful.”
For the future, Leftwich hopes that current students and young alumni “can find the same point of reconnection with the motto and each other, and our work for peace and justice in the world.”
Graber agreed, saying the weekend “reinvigorated our appreciation for what Goshen has meant to all of us and the significant ways it has shaped all of our lives.”
Part of the weekend was “running into people I haven’t seen in 20 years, and it felt like we were together yesterday,” Graber said. “Friends are friends forever.”