For many students, homecoming is a time for alumni to return to campus and reminisce about their college years. But thanks to the work of Carolina senior Tori Smith and the General Alumni Association-sponsored Homecoming Committee, the festivities are something that all Tar Heels can look forward to.
“Homecoming is also a time for current students to get excited, and that’s where we come in as a committee to bring students together,” Smith said of the weeklong celebration, which will culminate Saturday afternoon with the Carolina-Duke football game.
Smith first became involved with the Homecoming Committee as a first-year student when she was looking for a place to leave her heelprint on campus.
Now, four years later, the Chapel Hill native is the committee’s outreach chair and plays a crucial role in organizing the week’s festivities.
Each day of the week leading up to the football game on Saturday, the Homecoming Committee hosts giveaways, free food and fun activities in the Pit for students to enjoy. Smith’s role involves inviting other student organizations, such as a cappella and dance groups, to perform each day.
“Inclusivity is really important to us,” Smith said. “It’s not just our homecoming. It’s everyone’s homecoming. We want it to be an event for the whole student body to be involved with.”
Smith and the Homecoming Committee have been planning the celebrations for months.
The committee starts planning homecoming early in the spring semester, with applications for students to join the committee opening in early February. Before they leave campus for the summer, the committee works with their adviser and General Alumni Association staff to set a homecoming week theme and brainstorm preliminary details.
Smith said that the first day of homecoming week is her favorite part.
“It’s the day that everything falls into place,” Smith said. “All of those months we spent planning finally come together, and it’s all out there for students to enjoy.”
After she graduates in May, Smith will know what it’s like to experience homecoming as an alumna. But to her, the annual celebration wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful without all of the events the Homecoming Committee plans for students.
“Students will one day be alumni,” Smith said. “We think it’s important to connect students to their alma mater before they even graduate, so they feel that connection later on.”