Homecoming week at Virginia Commonwealth University entails a copious number of events which include free food, entertainment, prizes and attendees decked out in black and gold attire and accessories.
While these are expected components of Homecoming, an integral part of the 13-year-old tradition here at VCU is often overlooked, that is, until now: community. This year’s Homecoming events, which occurred at various locations and times of the day on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses, reached a population much broader than simply undergraduate students, including graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.
Tracey Hargett, a 2006 VCU graduate, was one of the many alumni who came back to her alma mater for Homecoming, accompanied by her daughter, freshman Rachel Hargett. The attendance of this multi-generational Ram family is not uncommon, as many alumni enjoy the reminiscent feel of being back at VCU, especially during such a joyous and spirited event as Homecoming.
“The community has really grown into something incredible,” Tracey Hargett said. “I’m happy to be a part of it. I definitely consider myself part of the Ram family.”
Notable Richmond resident and 2001 VCU alumni Kelli Lemon frequently makes return visits to VCU. As a professional MC, Lemon has hosted a variety of notable events in Richmond, including this year’s Homecoming concert. Lemon’s ties to VCU go much further than just graduating with a masters in Sports Management and Leadership: Lemon has held five positions at VCU over the course of 14 years, including Athletics, University Student Commons and University College – she was even on the first-ever Homecoming committee in 2002.
“To see the community is still growing is something really special,” said Lemon. “I’m so excited to see what the University will be like in the future.”
College is often thought of as a time to make ever-lasting friendships and pursue passions. For three VCU graduates, the friendship they found at VCU turned into a passion as they played on stage at the Homecoming Concert for an audience of hundreds.
This year’s Homecoming Concert featured Chance The Rapper, Magic!, Chaz French and a band by the name of S.U.P.E.R. The members of S.U.P.E.R. are three VCU alumni: Eric Penn – class of 2011, Mark Myuse – class of 2009 and Rayvon Burwell – class of 2007. The band formed in 2012 in Richmond, although the members of the trio live in different cities, namely New York and Richmond. The group describe their sound as a blend of old and new school hip hop, funk, electronica, spoken word poetry, jazz and blues. This eclectic trio opened the Homecoming show with tracks from their new mixtape, “Illegal Tint,” producing a roaring reaction from the crowd.
“Coming back to VCU makes it really full circle for us,” Penn said. “We were on the same stage as artists like Drake, Jhene and Lupe; it’s really incredible.”
The trio looks forward to planning another performance at VCU in the future. “Next time we’re headlining,” Myuse said jokingly. “No, but really, it’s definitely a vision. All I can say for today is that I hope people remember us.”
The school spirit and unrivaled sense of community felt during Homecoming week was evident for all, even those new to VCU. The diverse ages, backgrounds, and tastes of the VCU community is what makes VCU exceptional and VCU Homecoming a one-of-a-kind experience.