PNW prepares for homecoming

The PNW community will be going “Wild with Pride” this year as homecoming week, Jan. 26-31, has been reimagined to create an annual event that will expand in years to come.

Ashley Gerodimos, executive director of the PNW Alumni Community, said throughout the week students should notice that there are more opportunities to get involved and connect.

“We wanted to start a brand new tradition that included everyone — alumni, students, community members — and center everything leading up to the ‘MANE’ event. We plan on it growing and growing each year,” Gerodimos said.

A connection that has already been made is with the Hammond-based company, Byway Brewing Co. The alumni-owned company will create a cream ale called PNW Golden Mane, with 50 percent of the proceeds being donated to the university.

“We were blown away by their generosity. They were coming along at the same time as when we became PNW, and we began building a connection with them as faculty and students would visit,” Gerodimos said. “It’s a nice way for them to be involved, and already creating an ale in the university’s honor was great but to donate part of the proceeds — we just couldn’t believe it.”

Within the university, the Honors College will be the first component to host their own event during homecoming. Gerodimos said she hopes that as the tradition continues, each department joins in hosting their own event.

Kayla Vasilko, sophomore English writing major, created the Honors College’s S.T.A.R. Walk. The idea was originally pitched to be a smaller scale event during the summer, after Vasilko had a difficult time after losing her grandfather.

“After reaching out to family and friends, I realized many people have a hero in their lives that motivated them, and I thought it would be great for the community to have an event to honor loved ones,” Vasilko said.

The S.T.A.R. Walk will feature s’mores, hot chocolate, a candlelit remembrance walk and stargazing.

Individual members of PNW community have also been encouraged to participate in Art of the Pride contest, with the winners’ art being displayed throughout the week during the carnival on each campus.

“We wanted to give the campus community an opportunity to express their love for PNW. People can use any medium they like, just as long as they are showing their pride,” Gerodimos said.

While there have been past homecoming events, Gerodimos emphasized this year’s being the first of its kind for PNW.

“We really want to be able to connect all the pieces of the community together in a way that will be fun and allow for everyone to make connections and create lasting memories,” Gerodimos said.