Homecoming hosts will fulfill ambassador duties

Barbara Bell, News Editor

University Homecoming Hosts were announced on Oct. 5 after a vote went live to the student body. This year’s six hosts are Dejda Collins ’16, Ahmed Elnaiem ’16, Connor McLaughlin ’16, Cheyenne Mendes ’16, Alex Rosen ’16, and Taylor Schumann ’16.

These six seniors were chosen “for their commitment to service, academics, leadership, extracurricular involvement, and for their loyalty to Bucknell. They were nominated by the campus community, screened by a faculty/staff committee and selected by the entire student body,” Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Kaitlin Wagner said.

According to Wagner, the hosts will attend events during Homecoming Weekend, where they will interact with alumni and students, serve as University ambassadors, and be honored with a certificate presented by University President John Bravman during halftime of Oct. 24’s football game against Georgetown University.

The hosts represent a wide range of majors, interests, and extracurriculars. Among them are a Bucknell Student Government (BSG) president, Residential Advisors, biology majors, an engineer, Orientation Leaders, a T.E.A.M. mentor, a teaching assistant, and a dancer, to name a handful. Together, they represent a diverse group of leaders.

Schumann says it is this quality that captivated her most.

“Homecoming is a way for alum to come back to campus and gain an even stronger connection to the school and their community. I looked up to the hosts from previous years. Before they became hosts, they were leaders in my eyes and I am so honored to be a leader for my class and a liaison for graduated Bucknellians to tell them about what is happening on campus now,” Schumann said.

“Homecoming is important to me because it emphasizes the idea that attending Bucknell is not an ephemeral experience—rather it is an identity that stays with you and defines you long after you graduate,” Rosen said. “I have the privilege of working with other talented and passionate leaders from all realms of campus, and my role has allowed me to interact closely with amazing students, faculty, administration, and staff.”

“I can’t express how grateful I am for this opportunity,” McLaughlin said. “I’m grateful for the opportunities that Bucknell has provided me, whether it was serving as a Class President in Bucknell Student Government, giving campus tours as an Admissions Ambassador, or working with the Alumni Board as a student member.”

McLaughlin acknowledges that his role is hard because he knows that there are “so many other seniors who are equally as deserving” of the title of Homecoming Host.

“I think the easiest, but most rewarding, part of Homecoming will be talking to all the current and former Bucknell students,” Mendes said.

“I’m definitely looking forward to meeting with alumni and discussing the various ways in which Bucknell has changed since they have graduated,” Collins said.

Collins also said she is interested in discussing some of new initiatives the University is putting in place with alumni, such as the Five-Year Diversity Plan and the newly-announced Diversity Council.

“I am excited to talk to alumni about Bucknell and its mission to become a more diverse and inclusive campus,” Collins said.

Elnaiem said he wouldn’t shy away from addressing sensitive topics with alumni.

“I prioritize honesty. I will not shy away from addressing the two troubling racial incidences of the past year with the alumni community. I would highlight our community’s demonstrated resilience and commitment to social justice as illustrated by our student body’s response to these incidents,” Elnaiem said.

Rosen said she would handle current campus climate by branding herself as a “learning leader.”

“We are constantly learning about new ways to develop ourselves and the way we interact with the world around us,” Rosen said.

While each host mutually agreed to be active University alumni, many of them even specifying that they plan to return for Homecoming Weekend 2016, the hosts are much more scattered when it comes to their life post-graduation.

Rosen said she would like to work in an Embassy or Consulate upon graduation and recently completed the Foreign Service Officer Test. Mendes plans to take a year off for work/travel/volunteer opportunities while studying for the GRE.

“I learned way too late that there is only good that comes out of challenging yourself and putting yourself outside your comfort zone,” Mendes said.

Mendes hopes next year allows her to feel uncomfortable and be challenged in all the right ways.

“I will continue to be involved with Bucknell through (many) visits and by keeping tabs on what is happening on campus,” Mendes said.

Collins has applied to a Fulbright program that would allow her to get her Master’s, and Elnaiem hopes to obtain his MD degree and pursue a career in global health.

“Wherever I end up, I hope to stay connected to the Bucknell community by remaining active in the Alumni Association and maintaining the friendships and relationships I’ve formed over the past three years,” Elnaiem said.

McLaughlin is also in the process of applying to medical schools, but also plans to stay involved.

“I’ll probably get involved in my regional alumni club,” McLaughlin said.

Schumann, given her civil engineering major, said she would be happy taking a job as a general contractor after graduating. On a broader scale, she said she wants to use her degree “to do volunteer work to provide clean water for communities or to help companies reduce their carbon footprint.”

Homecoming Weekend festivities begin Oct. 23. The six hosts will be honored on Oct. 24 during halftime of the football game against Georgetown.

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