Late afternoon sunset over the gathered crowd at Eastern Mennonite University's Homecoming and Family Weekend Saturday, Oct. 8. (Photos by Rachel Holderman, Derrick Chirinos and Bryan Luna)

Homecoming and Family Weekend 2022: A ‘Roaring’ Success (we love you, Herm!)

20221008 Homecoming - Fall Fest_RKH-61

EMU students, faculty, staff, family, friends and alumni gathered for the annual three-day celebration of all things Royal — and all the things that make EMU such a special place! Reuniting with hugs and smiles and catching up on the latest life news were the main events at our 2022 Homecoming and Family Weekend — but we also know folks enjoyed the blockbuster talent Girl Named Tom, great food, and perfect fall weather.

The work of many months came to fruition for Jennifer North Bauman, director of alumni and parent engagement. “This annual celebration of Royal pride is the culmination of lots of planning and contributions from around campus,” she said. “We’re more than thrilled with the turnout and all the fun I saw people having at so many of the events.” 

Alumni from 26 states (Pennsylvania logged the best attendance behind Virginia four from California came the furthest) and three countries (Brazil, Canada, and South Korea) made their way to Harrisonburg for the three-day event. 

The Jubilee Alumni Gathering, of those graduating 50 years ago or more, drew more than 100 folks. 

Here’s a few more highlights in no particular order:

  • One big banquet for our donors, with thanks to stellar student storytellers sharing the impact of donor giving on their lives and education: Meredith Lehman, sophomore, double major in biology and political science, from Dover, Ohio; Alijah Johnson, senior digital media and communications major from Camp Springs, Maryland; Ella Brubaker, sophomore double major in history and political science, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Amarea Witt, second year MS in biomedicine student from St. Paul, Minnesota; and Kimberly Shank, third year dual degree MA in counseling and Master in Divinity student from Mount Solon, Virginia.
  • Two concerts (thanks, Ryan Kauffman ‘97 and Girl Named Tom) plus several ensembles gathered for shorter performances over the weekend;
  • Lots of food — Those food trucks at the Fall Festival were amazing (how did you decide what to eat?)! Pioneer College Catering’s Bruce Emmerson, Shannon Grinnan, Darren Campbell and their crew logged 789.25 hours total working 15 events, serving 918 catered meals PLUS served 1,766 in the dining hall. 
  • Athletics! The men’s and women’s cross country teams each came away with individual and team victories at the Golden Acorn Invitational. Field hockey beat Bridgewater 3-2 and men’s soccer came away with a hard-fought tie against Virginia Wesleyan. Women’s soccer lost a tough game to Washington and Lee, while just up the road at the baseball complex, the traditional intra-squad rivalry of the Blue-Black World Series entertained fans and community members. See news coverage at
Kirby Dean, Lisa Lee Senger and Mike Downey. (Photo by Bryan Luna)
  • Hall of Honor inductions for the 2010 basketball team (head coach Kirby Dean ’92 and former player George Johnson ’11 were in attendance) and Lisa Lee Senger ’10. A Distinguished Service Award went to former athletic trainer Mike Downey.
  • Some fabulous learning opportunities with our alumni:

TenTalks featured WNBA Director of Officials Sue Blauch ‘86, Harrisonburg, Va.; Jered Lyons ‘08, Silver Spring, Md., director of athletics and basketball coach at Washington Adventist University; and Dr. Todd Weaver ‘87, orthodontist and distance runner. 

Erika Gascho ’10, Heidi Bowman Byler ’04, Justin King ’12, and Shannon Roth ’07 spoke about restorative justice in education.

Nathan Hershberger ’12 presented to Haverim.

Amy Rosenberger ‘85, Alum of the Year, was the featured guest at the history, political science and pre-law gathering.

Marshall King ‘92 presented on his book “Disarmed,” the story of Michael “MJ” Sharp ’05.

Dr. Rolando L. Santiago ‘79 gave a Suter Science Seminar.


Y-Serve/YPCA, EMU’s longest-serving student organization, celebrated its centennial during Homecoming Week with a chapel service and an affinity gathering. The audience at Sunday’s Homecoming worship service were witness to a special commemorative event. In 1972, when YCPA commemorated its 50th anniversary, the organization’s first president J. Paul Souder returned to participate in a sacred ritual. He passed a pitcher —  symbolizing anointing of God’s blessing (Joel 2:17) for the continued ministry/service of YPCA — to then president Jim Musser ‘75. Musser returned on Sunday to reenact the ritual with current co-president Halie Mast and communications coordinator Kara Kornhaus

  • And finally, recognition for our alumni award recipients, who each spoke at Sunday’s worship service on the theme of belonging.
Amy Rosenberger, Dr. Joseph Gascho, and Camila Pandolfi with their commemorative clocks. (Photo by Bryan Luna)

Here’s the worship service livestream with time marks if you’d like to watch each speech:

Camila Pandolfi (28:30) speaks on her work as an educator with students and teachers in the dual language program in Harrisonburg City Schools and how creating a sense of belonging and building intentional relationships with and between educators and students leads to success for new English learners.  

Being a teacher, I believe, is synonymous with creating a sense of belonging in ourselves and our students…Connection, service, courage, but mostly belonging is why we choose this demanding intricate vocation.  No we’re not in it for the money, We are in it for the opportunity to impact so many hearts, nourish their minds and create a belonging space for ourselves and our beloved students, year after year.

Amy Rosenberger (34:40) speaks about advocating for employees as a labor and union attorney:

When employees join together,  it is all about working for workplace justice — in their own particular workplace but in the greater society at large. They become a part of something bigger than themselves and it’s empowering … What is most rewarding for me is when I see someone grow to a regular rank and file worker to take on a leadership role in their workplace or more broadly, and learn about the structures that are available, their rights as workers and how to support and advocate for their coworkers on the job. I get to have a little part in that, I’d like to think, whether it’s leading a workshop that they worker attended early on or advising them about how to advocate for coworkers or or how to negotiate for fair working conditions…my connection is … about working for justice and valuing all work, not just what our society tells us is valuable about professions or what it means to be successful. 

Dr. Joseph Gascho (41:00) shares about how important cultivation of belonging is. He named those who had mentored him: Dr. Richard Crampton, in medical school and beyond; Kimberly Myers, who holds a doctorate in literature and encouraged his poetry writing; and EMU Professor Emeritus Howard Zehr, also a photographer.

Such people have played critical roles in making me feel like I belong, and that’s a role each of us can play…those of you who teach, please remember how important it is to make your students feel like they belong. That student who asksa a dumb question may be on to something; she may go seomday on to win a Nobel Prize with your encouragement. 

Gascho’s unique artistic lens includes the theme of belonging within the hierarchical institution of the medical center, where “the vital infrastructure of employees is ignored” and patients are viewed clinically. Watch his address for a few samples of his photos and listen as he concludes with a poem. Find more on his website.

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