Bedecked in black and gold, the Retriever community came out in full force for the 2017 Homecoming celebration. Held over the first two weekends in October, this year’s festivities combined old favorites with new traditions, and brought faculty, staff, alumni, students, and members of the wider UMBC community together to celebrate another year of grit and greatness.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5: Alumni Awards

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Homecoming kicked off on Thursday, October 5, with our Alumni Awards ceremony, an annual event honoring graduates and faculty who have made outstanding contributions to their fields and their communities.

This year’s Alumni Award winners were Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D.’06, public policy; Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, chemical engineering; Kate Laskowski ’06, biological sciences and chemistry; Steven Storck ’08, mechanical engineering and mathematics, M.S. ’09, mechanical engineering, and Ph.D. ’14, mechanical engineering; Dennis Williams II ’14, American studies; Lauren Mazzoli ’15, mathematics and computer science, and M.S.’17, computer science; and Alejandro Cremaschi ’93, music. Our Outstanding Faculty Award went to Marc Zupan, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

For a full recap of this year’s event, click here; you can also check out a live video of the ceremony on our Facebook page.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6: Bonfire and Big Prize Poetry Slam

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Homecoming festivities continued into Friday, as we brought alumni, students, faculty, and staff around the traditional Erickson Field bonfire. The blaze has been a Homecoming mainstay since 2005; this year’s celebration boasted food, fun, and plenty of Retriever spirit to go around.

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Elsewhere on campus, the English Department’s annual Big Prize Poetry Slam was in full swing as alumni and students competed for the top spot in the spoken-word competition. “It’s a perfect storm of students, alumni, faculty, fans, all supporting each other, caring about poetry, recognizing that this art form matters and that these poets sharing their work really matter[s],” Sally Shivnan, associate director of the writing and rhetoric division of the Department of English, told The Retriever Weekly.

Amber C. Wheeler ’21, English, took home the night’s $200 top prize; Calista Ogburn ’21, health administration and policy, and Charles Griffin ’18, philosophy, came in second and third, respectively.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7: Retriever Dance Marathon and Block Show

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Students spent the first Homecoming Saturday getting their groove on across campus, as the annual Retriever Dance Marathon kicked off in the UC Ballroom, and members of the National Panhellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council, Caribbean Student Council, Black Student Union, and Major Definition performed in the UMBC Block Show.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 9: Homecoming Hype

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The dance team, the pep band, the free (seb) swag…all was present and accounted for on the Commons Mainstreet at free hour to kick off the first official week of Homecoming.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11: Campus Campaign Kickoff

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On Wednesday afternoon, folks from all across the campus community gathered on Erickson Field to help kick off UMBC’s Grit and Greatness Campaign (which you can read more about here). We asked students, faculty, and staff to share with us their proudest accomplishments, what the word “partnership” means to them, and how UMBC has changed their lives…and we were bowled over by the answers we got. In exchange, participants received a limited-edition Grit and Greatness Campaign t-shirt…which proved to be so popular that we ran out early!

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13: Student Leader Reunion and Comedy Show with Trevor Noah

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Friday the 13th was a lucky one for UMBC, as The Daily Show host Trevor Noah played live to a sold-out crowd in the RAC! Right before the show, alumni members of (seb), Greek Life, SGA, and former Commons student staff gathered in the RAC fitness center to share memories and a meal.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14: Grit-X, Alumni Reunions, Carnival, and Soccer Game

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Homecoming Saturday started with the second annual Grit-X Talks, where we brought faculty and alumni in fields from neuroscience to engineering to teaching to dance back to campus to share their expertise in bite-sized presentations. Check out the full recap of that event here.

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Elsewhere, students enjoyed breakfast with their families in the Skylight Room; folks from all over the surrounding community came to the Homecoming Carnival, featuring rides, face painting, and a petting zoo; and alumni from every Retriever decade reconnected at reunions in the Alumni Tent and across campus.

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The night ended with a 3-1 win for the Retriever men’s soccer team against defending conference champs Albany, a fitting coda to more than a week of Grit and Greatness.

— Julia Celtnieks ’13; all photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 unless otherwise noted

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