More than 1,000 alumni, students, and families gathered at Worcester State University to celebrate Homecoming Weekend 2022 with a variety of family fun activities, athletic events, awards, and special recognition ceremonies. Under sunny skies, many said they were just happy to see friends, classmates, and fellow alumni come together again.
“This is really a lot of fun,” said Julia Carrier ’23, as she played a beanbag-toss game with her parents and boyfriend at Homecoming Family Day on Saturday. “We came last year but it wasn’t the same, just from COVID and everything. So, this year having all these activities is amazing.”
Family Day offered a festive carnival-like atmosphere for more than 700 students, parents, siblings, and alumni. Attendees played outdoor games, made arts and crafts, decorated pumpkins, and crowded into the Student Center for standing-room-only bingo with prizes including Worcester State swag. Nearby, hundreds of alumni gathered throughout the day Saturday for BBQ, ice cream, and family activities at Homecoming Experience.
Julia’s mother, Denise Carrier B.A. ’93, M.A. ’06, said Homecoming activities have expanded considerably since she was a student at Worcester State. “It’s really nice that they have all these family activities now,” she said. “We didn’t have anything quite like this when I was here. It’s grown so much. The campus is amazing and beautiful and, with all these people interacting and doing things together, it’s really become a community in and of itself.”
Sara and Ted Lyons came to campus to watch their son Collin Lyons ’25 play in the Worcester State vs UMass Dartmouth Homecoming football game. “He’s a sophomore, and he transferred here last January, so this is our first experience at a campus event,” Sara Lyons said. “This is the first home game that we’ve been able to come to, so that’s really exciting, too.”
Sara said Collin chose to transfer to Worcester State in part because his high school football coach knew the Worcester State football coach. “So that was a nice comfortable connection, but then when we toured, the buildings and campus were beautiful, and I think he also liked the small quaintness of the campus.”
Collin’s younger sister, Ellie Lyons, a sophomore in high school, had a different take. “It’s really big and looks great,” she said, of her first impression of the campus. She might even consider following in her brother’s footsteps when it’s time for her to go to college. “You can pick what you want to learn, which I like, and you can find lots of friends here because there’s just so many people.”
And what did Ellie think of Family Day? “It’s fun, and there’s bunnies, so I got to hold a bunny,” she said, referring to a small petting zoo featuring baby animals including several bunnies, baby chicks, and adorable downy ducklings.
“They’re melting me,” Kim Legere said of the ducklings, as she stood at the petting zoo waiting for her son, Nolan Legere ’26, to come down from the dorms. “I love this. It’s really fun. It’s nice to have the kids bring their parents on campus.”
Her younger son, Adam, age 11, was inside the zoo enclosure holding a bunny. Most times, as soon as people let go of the bunnies, they would quickly hop away, but not in Adam’s case. The bunny stayed nestled in his lap, then another bunny hopped up, unbidden, and joined the first. Then a third one climbed up and Adam just sat there silently, smiling, with the furry trio cuddled together on his lap. “It looks like he’s a bunny whisperer,” his mother said.
Homecoming Football Game
The Saturday afternoon football game vs. UMass Dartmouth brought a big and noisy crowd of alumni, parents, and students to Coughlin Field.
The Corsairs took the lead early, but the Lancers rallied in the second half. Worcester State sophomore Ebenezer Ankomah Gyau intercepted a pass from Dartmouth’s Dante Aviles-Santos early in the third quarter and returned it 23 yards into the end zone for Worcester’s first touchdown of the game. Sophomore kicker Santiago Rodriguez-D’Atri made the extra point and Worcester got back in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Sophomore wide receiver Deion Osei-Sarpong caught a 25-yard pass from graduate quarterback Aaron-Moses Williams. Osei-Sarpong also led the Lancers with 44 receiving yards.
Williams finished with 10 completed passes out of 20 attempts for 120 yards, one touchdown and one interception to bring the score to 35-7. Junior quarterback Mike Loveless entered the game with three minutes remaining, completing two passes out of two for 13 yards. Loveless rushed for 68 yards into the end zone for another touchdown for the Lancers, bringing the final score to UMass Dartmouth 41-WSU 20.
Office of Multicultural Affairs 50th Anniversary
Saturday’s festivities were capped with a semi-formal celebration that drew 175 attendees to honor the 50th Anniversary of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The event paid tribute to OMA leaders Sidney Buxton, Marcela Uribe-Jennings, Laxmi Bissoondial, and the student-led Third World Alliance, and to OMA’s mission to support first-generation, low income, and ALANA/BIPOC (African, Latine, Asian, Native American and/or Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students.
“Our footprint is all over this campus and we should be proud. It was done by a village,” Uribe-Jennings said as the room erupted in applause.
“I love you all; I am glad you are here,” Buxton said in his remarks. “I want you all to know that you are the wind beneath my wings. You gave meaning to my life. You made my career a success, my family’s development a success. You helped Worcester State, now University, become a better place. We did it together.”
“We love you Sidney!” came cries from the audience.
Alumnus and emcee for the evening Manasseh Konadu ’21 led the crowd in rallying cries of “Impact” and “Heartbeat” throughout the evening.
“In the 50 years the Office of Multicultural Affairs has been there, it has caused us to rise up,” Konadu said. “It’s caused us to have families that understand generational wealth…. For many families here, there are generations feeling the effects of what the great Sidney Buxton brought to Worcester State in the 1970s.”
During the celebration, Worcester Mayor Joe Petty presented a Key to the City to Buxton, Uribe-Jennings and Bissoondial in honor of OMA’s 50 years of contributions to the community. “What a wonderful celebration,” Petty said. “OMA is not just making Worcester State a better university, you’re making Worcester a better city.”
Alumna Lisa Maddox ’94, who leads Worcester State’s Upward Bound program and works in Worcester Public Schools, was also presented a Key to the City. “I’m deeply touched and so surprised,” Maddox said as she received the award. “I’m grateful for all the support and love I’ve received, the mentorship from Sid and Marcela. I implore all of you who have received love and support to also be there for future generations.”
“For alumna Leticia Marquez ’17, who works at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston, the celebration “felt like being home. OMA was like your family.”
“It was so great to see old faces and new faces,” said Francisco Crisostomo ’16. “We should do this a lot more often.”
Friday: Support and recognition for Athletics
Friday’s festivities focused on support for Worcester State Athletics with the Inaugural George H. Albro ’65 Memorial Golf Tournament and the 30th Lancer Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Nearly 100 people took part in the golf tournament, which served as a fundraiser for Athletics in memory of Lancer legend, educator, coach, and mentor George Albro.
“It was a picture-perfect, windy fall day to bring together alumni, family, and friends to raise much needed support for Lancer Athletics and honor our beloved alumnus,” said Executive Director of Development Jodi Briggs-Pickett. “We are looking forward to making this an annual event!”
On Friday night, the university honored outstanding alumni who had been student athletes on campus at the Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The event drew 250 alumni and their families.
David Meyers ’76, of the Alumni Association’s Advisory Board, welcomed the crowd to the special evening with words of praise and gratitude for both the alumni honorees and the coaches who supported them.
“To our honorees, today you have the right to stand a little taller,” he said. “Your achievements have made WSU a better place. And, if I may, I feel it is appropriate and fitting to recognize your coaches and families. Those individuals that gave their time and talent to push you, encourage you, train you, listen to you, and yes, sometimes yell at you … all in an effort to make you better.”
The 2022 Hall of Fame honorees are:
- Christine “Chrissy” (Mitchell) Gaffney ’89 – Volleyball, Women’s Basketball, Track & Field
- Alyssa (Jasper) Guzman ’15 – Volleyball, Women’s Basketball, Track & Field (Class of 2020 Inductee)
- James Hughes ’76 – Men’s Ice Hockey (posthumously)
- Kemani Jones ’16 – Football
- Sacha (Ashton) Langford ’21 – Women’s Basketball
- Thomas “Tiger’ White ’76 – Men’s Ice Hockey
- Malcolm Person – Contributor, Men’s Basketball
- Richard “Sonny” Price – Contributor, Men’s Basketball
- 1971–1972 Men’s Ice Hockey Team
Thursday: A challenge course to raise cancer awareness
On Thursday, students, alumni, and employees kicked off Homecoming with Grit ‘N Wit, a confidence-boosting, team-building, mental- and fitness-challenge obstacle. The event was presented by the Rosen Cancer Awareness Fund, a new initiative by Worcester State alumni Gregg ’86 and Pamela ’87 Rosen, and their children Kaitlyn, Zachary, and Melanie.
The course consisted of 16 stations, half of them physical obstacles and the other half mental puzzles. Some puzzles were math problems or memory problems, including one like a Sudoku puzzle and another like a larger version of a Rubik’s cube.
“They have to conquer the course as a team,” Tyler Greene, a Grit ‘N Wit staffer who set up the course, said. “They’re not allowed to leave anybody behind so they’re giving each other boosts over the walls and helping each other crawl under things. They’re working together in a different way than they would if they were just sitting in class.”
The rain had stopped before Ciara Cargiulo ’23 and her team headed out to tackle the soggy course. “It was great. I felt like I was part of a real team,” she said at the finish line. “It was a lot of fun. Some of the puzzles were a little tricky but by working together we figured them out.”
The waterlogged course made for an extra challenge, and Ciara’s team had the muddy T-shirts to prove it. However, team member Egan Davidson ’25 said slogging through the numerous puddles only added to the fun. “I think it made it more fun that it had just rained,” he said. “It was really wet and muddy, but we got through it.”
“We had some rain, but then the sun came out and it really came together,” Dean Bowen, Worcester State’s fitness center manager, said. “We have a lot of really happy, muddy faces bringing awareness to the fight against cancer here at Worcester State and supporting the Rosen Cancer Awareness Fund.”
Nancy Sheehan contributed to this story. Photos by Matt Wright ’10 and Nancy Sheehan.
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