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November 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

 

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November 26, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Pitsgiving 2021Pitsgiving 2021 drew crowds of students embracing a treasured tradition. Photos by Ken Bennett.

EDITORS’ PICKS

From Pitsgiving to Thanksgiving

Before class last Thursday, my journalism students were buzzing about Pit strategies. Someone’s friends had started lining up at the cafeteria at 6 a.m. Others discussed plans to “hand off” tables throughout the day. Pitsgiving’s official start was 11 a.m., and these students were at the ready, despite dutifully attending my 11 a.m. class where, for the next 75 minutes, I stood between them and the mashed potatoes.

I launched into my old-timer routine. Going to the Pit in my day was never about the food, I told them. One friend of mine existed on cheeseburgers, fries and “Polar Bear” ice cream bars for every lunch and dinner from October through finals. No one praised Pit food. And the only reason anyone anywhere might line up at 6 a.m. was to snag ACC basketball tickets.

I got a kick out of the students’ excitement about what is now an established  Wake Forest tradition. Pitsgiving marks a day for gathering friends to dine on turkey and the fixings, a preview of the Thanksgiving holidays. Pit food is considered truly tasty now — I’m serious, old-timers — and the turkeypalooza of main events is Pitsgiving.

Today, as you rest from yesterday’s Thanksgiving feasts, know that for students the festive gatherings around food and friends started a week ago at dear old Wake Forest.

All semester, students have been reclaiming traditions shelved a year ago at the height of the pandemic. They’re cheering on our teams in record numbers. They’re rolling the Quad like crazy. For me, to see that kind of school spirit is another reason to be grateful.

Enjoy those leftovers,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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October 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

 

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October 29, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Members of the Wake Forest community participate in the annual Hit the Bricks for Brian cancer research fundraiser on Hearn Plaza 9/30/21.

EDITORS’ PICKS

Traditions return

Today is a huge day on campus. We are welcoming back graduates for Homecoming weekend to cheer on the Demon Deacons and expecting to see signature dancing and swaying at Party So Dear with The Commodores on Manchester Plaza. Fall semester is in full swing — as much as possible — as we continue to navigate COVID-19.

Seeing these traditions reemerge for in-person events after 2020’s challenges makes them even sweeter. They are proving more popular, too, when we have chances to high-five each other in real life rather than give each other a Zoom wave.

Hit the Bricks once again brought out the crowds to thunder around the Quad. A record 1,693 participants logged nearly 5,700 miles and raised more than $202,000 for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund.

I find it uplifting to see how the campus community continues to honor the memory of Wake Forest football legend Brian Piccolo (’65, P ’87, ’89) with sustained, impressive fundraising for cancer research through Hit the Bricks and other student-led events. Piccolo died in 1970 at age 26 of a rare form of cancer, but his legacy lives on as students put their hearts into honoring him and other loved ones who have had cancer. Have no doubt that the Pro Humanitate spirit on campus this fall is alive and thriving.

Go, Deacs! Beat Duke!
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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September 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

 

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September 24, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

2020 commencement, held 16 months later in September 2021 because of COVID-19

Graduates toss their caps during Commencement 2020, which was delayed 16 months due to COVID-19.

EDITORS’ PICKS

Live in hope

We are accustomed to stories having a beginning, a middle and an end. Members of the Class of 2020 built the chapters of their story upon arriving in August 2016. They began in a circle on the Quad with the provost and their parents. They hummed the alma mater when they didn’t know the words. They wrote their first papers, cheered their teams’ victories, nursed pangs of homesickness and looked around at some point to recognize that these buddies of theirs might indeed become friends for life. They went abroad. They assisted refugees and tutored little kids. They talked smack in the dorms. They learned to speak other languages. They noticed — maybe without stopping in their tracks — how the bells of Wait Chapel rang every day at 5 p.m. And then, in March 2020, they went away for their final spring break only to receive a warning, a dire interruption: There’s a global pandemic. Don’t come back.

But that didn’t stop their senior year. Alone, they kept studying and attending class remotely. To mark completion of their academic work, they watched a virtual program to mark the passage from students to official graduates. Perhaps they were with their loved ones who toasted their achievement. But they weren’t on campus with the friends, faculty and staff who had walked beside them.

For their story, in such unfamiliar terrain, there was no true sense of an ending.

That changed — dramatically, joyfully, tearfully — last weekend. More than 700 of the members of the Class of 2020 returned with family members in tow. They ran across Magnolia Patio to embrace each other. They gathered outside the food court. “What’s up?! Everybody got haircuts!” they shouted. They danced to the band on Manchester Plaza.

And then they arose on Saturday, bleary-eyed, and, in full regalia, took their place in line on the Quad. And their parents beamed as each name was called for their children, who were grownups now, in grad school or working in their second year as Wake Forest graduates. No matter about the technicalities. As if in a time warp, they were marching on a sunny day to the stage in front of Wait Chapel to shake the hand of President Emeritus Nathan O. Hatch (L.H.D. ’21) and to receive a diploma.

“Take joy in doing the right thing even when the future is unknown,” Hatch told them.

And so their story ended; and while their (and our) futures remain as uncertain as ever, for a few hours at home at Wake Forest, their future (and ours) was brighter on such a very fine day.

Here’s to the powerful Class of 2020,
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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August 2021 @WAKE Newsletter

 

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August 27, 2021

The Alumni Newsletter of  WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

Images of Move-in Day 2021

ABOVE: Move-in days highlights, including a signed welcome from President Susan R. Wente.

EDITORS’ PICKS

They’re back!

The beat of the drum. The shout of “Go, Deacs!” The sight of tubs, wagons, trunks and comforters on parade. Move-in days last week brought a cheerful arrival, including for the Class of 2025 that was 1,400 undergraduates strong.

I sat in the lobby of Benson University Center last Thursday, where I looked up to admire the flags representing our students from around the world and thought about how grateful I was that students were moving to campus to begin or renew friendships in person and engage with professors again.

Soon my reverie was broken. Parents were stopping by to ask questions and write post cards for their new Demon Deacons. I asked most of them why their children chose our alma mater. Wake Forest “set the bar” during college visits, and no other school met it, one answered. Wake Forest “scored 10” on the visits. A daughter knew right away this was the one. A son wanted to come South, where he liked the idea of being outdoors much of the year and prized the University’s academic reputation. The size was right. The campus was beautiful. For another couple’s son, it seemed “meant to be” when a student tour guide turned out to be a graduate of the same Massachusetts high school.

They had flown or driven from Minneapolis, Boston, Atlanta, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, to name but a few of their homes. They were wearing masks, but their eyes beamed when they expressed their delight about their children’s college choice.

All of us who are alumni remember those move-in days, how transformative they are for students and parents. To all in the Class of ’25 and to their older classmates, I wish them an academic year filled with happiness and rich memories that start the minute one walks in the dorm room door. Take it from me, those Demon Deacon memories last a lifetime.

Here’s to Deacs, new and old!
Maria Henson

Maria Henson (’82)
Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large
magazine.wfu.edu

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