This weekend at Point Loma Nazarene University is Homecoming weekend, an annual event beloved by current students, alumni and faculty.
According to Kendall Lucas, the executive director of alumni relations and annual giving, an estimated 1,000 guests will return to their alma mater for the festivities.
PLNU’s Homecoming weekend has been a tradition since the existence of the university, according to Kimberly White, the assistant director of alumni relations.
This year will celebrate the 50-year anniversary of PLNU’s move from Pasadena College to its current location. A photo display will appear in Friday’s chapel as well as outside of the cafeteria, giving students and alumni the opportunity to reflect on the school’s history.
PLNU is also celebrating the class of 1973’s 50th reunion. White said that the university is also celebrating past classes’ 45-year, 30-year and 10-year reunions.
Over the course of three days, the alumni association will host an average of 24 events on campus. Planning for 2023 began immediately after Homecoming week ended in 2022. This year’s team is made up of four full-time alumni association staff members, 25 members of the alumni board who fly out from throughout the nation to assist during the week and 13 student alumni ambassadors (SSA).
This is fourth-year marketing major Sneha Kollu’s third year as an SAA. SAA is an opportunity for students who are interested in connecting with alumni to be mentored by them, plan Homecoming, all to bridge the gap between current and past PLNU students.
“It is an amazing experience to be a part of and to work with the alumni team because they will be our point of contact when we graduate,” Kollu said.
Together, the alumni association, alumni board and SAA curated events to celebrate PLNU’s history, share stories and build connections between generations.
“We share people’s stories, and we glorify God in the work we’re doing and that is what drives me to do the work that I do,” said Lucas. “A big part of my job is getting to connect people with the institution.”
After incremental changes to homecoming week over the past four years during her role as executive director, Lucas said last year’s event hit a sweet spot.
The rise in social media has made it easier for alumni to connect outside of resources from the university, prompting the alumni association to change a few things.
“If you think about it, prior to social media, we were the social hub of reconnecting with your friends from college,” Lucas said. “That has completely changed. We are really trying to rethink the purpose of a reunion.”
Last year, cluster reunions were added as a way for alumni to engage with the classes above and below their graduating year, in addition to their own. The cluster reunions and the return of last year’s inaugural “Loma Live from the Greek” will be held in the Greek amphitheater during Homecoming, as well as many other events.
Events on Friday, Feb. 17
Friday’s events will kick off with Homecoming chapel at 9:30 a.m. in Brown Chapel, honoring current students and alumni. Three categories of alumni awards will be presented: distinguished achievement alumni awardees, spotlight alumni awardees and rising alumni awardees.
“It is fun for us to recognize students before they even become an alum, that they already are a part of that community of 50,000 plus alumni across the globe,” White said. “A concert is something sustainable for the future of the institution and it still has the heart of a variety show, which is bringing students and alumni together to have this grand experience and celebrate Point Loma.”
Friday evening at 6:30 p.m., PLNU’s second annual “Loma Live from the Greek” will be held in the Greek amphitheater. Loma Live used to be a variety show that was traditionally held in the Brown Chapel where students and alumni would perform.
“As I was thinking about our legacy and the work we do here, I was thinking about: what’s sustainable, what is something that we can actually do for the next 20 years?” Lucas said.
Yet this year, PLNU is hosting husband-and-wife Los Angeles band JOHNNYSWIM. White said that they are hoping to sell out with about 1,700 students, alumni, faculty and staff in attendance.
Lucas shared how the alumni association decided on hosting JOHNNYSWIM for the Loma Live concert.
“I was thinking about someone who was Christian, who had spiritual beliefs, who was fun and would bring a lot of energy to the Greek. They are fun in concert. They come out in the audience and engage with people. We want people to feel like they are a part of our community,” Lucas said.
Events on Saturday, Feb. 18
At 7 a.m. on Saturday, the third annual We are Loma 5k will be held at the university’s track and field. The 5K is a fundraiser event for the LomaFund, which is for student scholarships.
“We are also partnering with the Associated Student Body (ASB) to do some dorm room competitions where the different dorm rooms will compete with one another,” White said.
Mid-morning, there will be 13 academic department gatherings where alumni can see their old classrooms and meet with their professors.
From 2 to 6 p.m., the Homecoming Marketplace will be held on Caf Lane, where 35 alumni and student vendors will be selling baked goods, home goods and more. Live music, carnival games, bounce houses and a Tailgate BBQ with Hodad’s Burgers will also be offered.
At 5:30 in the evening, the alumni association will be partnering with PLNU’s ASB, cheer and athletics to have a spirit rally before the 6 p.m. women’s and 8 p.m. men’s basketball games against Hawaii Pacific University.
“We are going to be introducing the ‘Fight Song’ to the alumni community for the first time, so that will be a fun component that the alumni community can learn,” Lucas said.
Lucas and White encourage students to participate in the events, and Kollu encourages students who are interested in mentorship opportunities and Homecoming planning to look into SAA.
“Take a chance and try it, just show up. There is so much that they want to share with you, there are so many networking opportunities,” said Lucas. “Every person that is going to be on campus next weekend is going to be looking to connect with people.”
To learn more about the Homecoming awards and events, visit https://www.pointloma.edu/offices/alumni-association/homecoming. To learn more about SAA, visit https://www.pointloma.edu/become-plnu-student-alumni-ambassador.
Written By: Katie Morris and Sofie Fransen