SNHU Celebrations: 2022 Homecoming Unites the Global Community
Ten years ago, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) combined Alumni Weekend and Family Weekend into one community-wide celebration: Homecoming. It’s now an annual event that brings together alumni, campus students, online students, faculty, staff and SNHU families. After two years of hosting a virtual Homecoming, the event’s planning committee was thrilled to add in-person activities and meet-ups to the schedule for the first time since 2019.
The Homecoming theme for 2022 was “Celebrate the Past and Embrace the Future.” SNHU has gone through many changes over the past nine decades, from its beginnings in a small building on Hanover Street in Manchester, New Hampshire, to now supporting more than 160,000 learners worldwide.
This year, the university commemorated 90 years since its founding and launched a refreshed logo and brand identity encompassing the university’s rich history, continued innovation and commitment to transforming lives through education.
Regional, Online and Campus Meet-ups
With more than 200,000 alumni and 160,000 learners, pockets of SNHU communities can gather all over the world — including on the Manchester campus, at regional meet-ups and through online activities.
Homecoming kicked off early with a meet-up in Tucson, Arizona, hosted by SNHU advisor Rich Groleau. Attendees and their families enjoyed lawn games, refreshments and the opportunity to connect with one another. Regional celebrations continued in Pico Rivera, California, hosted by alumni leaders Jessica Aguilar ’06 and Wade Philbrick ’85. Southern California community members took advantage of the opportunity to gather in person, meeting up at the Brewjeria Company, whose co-founder and president, Agustin Ruelas ’09G, is an SNHU alum.
There were also scheduled virtual events and on-demand activities, including a sold-out Bring Your Own Paint Night, sold-out Virtual Big Money Bingo and livestreams of events happening on campus, including the mentalist show and Penmen Athletics matches. More than 350 individuals from the U.S., Canada, Vietnam and Belize registered for SNHU’s 8th annual virtual 5K. The virtual scavenger hunt was also a hit for those who were unable to join in person. A celebration-themed music playlist was created so people could get into the Homecoming spirit from anywhere.
Alumni, students, employees and their families visited campus for additional activities between Oct. 14-16. Paint night attendees gathered in Alumni Hall to paint a fall scene, similar to the great weather they experienced in New England that weekend. Saturday morning kicked off with a 5K Fun Run/Walk and dedication of the Ed Daniels Throws Area, a track and field space named for Coach Ed Daniels. Soon after, the Green Space buzzed with activity for Homecoming’s famous Street Fair, built by many of SNHU’s clubs, organizations and departments. Guests cheered on Penmen athletes at the renamed Mark A. Ouellette Stadium, tennis courts and Dr. George Larkin Field. Former women’s tennis player Amber (Chandronnait) Robins ’11 ’14G was inducted into the NE10 Hall of Fame — the first woman in the university’s history.
SNHU Awards and Community Celebration
By late afternoon, guests gathered for the SNHU Awards and Community Celebration. Alumnus and current SNHU Alumni Association President JR Ristaino ’82 gave opening remarks. Six individuals were recognized on the lawn of the Edward S. Wolak Library Learning Commons for their remarkable contributions to the SNHU community and beyond.
Hall of Fame Award
Andre Hawaux ’92MBA served on the SNHU Board of Trustees for 10 years. He values the SNHU community, as shown by his time spent speaking in classes and creating the Hawaux Foundation Scholarship Fund. Since retiring, Hawaux continues to give back, sharing his knowledge, leadership and experience with organizations.
Distinguished Service to Alumni Awards
In her 40 years working at SNHU, Connie Hebert’s responsibilities grew with the university; she supported a variety of departments over the years, including Residence Life, the Dean of Students and even custom sewing each Penmen cheerleading uniform by hand. Hebert saw and believed in the good in each student and can always be found with a smile on her face.
Ed Daniels began working at SNHU in the early 1990s, when it was known as New Hampshire College. Since retiring (twice), Daniels continues to volunteer as SNHU’s track and field coach. He recently founded the Ed Daniels Track and Field Endowed Fund which will support the program for years to come.
Distinguished Service Awards
In her various roles at SNHU, Jennifer Kidwell ’91 ’16G has worked hard to connect the SNHU community across the globe by serving on the Alumni Board of Directors and leading Global Days of Service projects. Kidwell volunteered for Fuel Our Families by distributing food donations throughout Greater Manchester during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emerging Leader Award
Vishwal Shah ’18G is dedicated to helping the SNHU community by volunteering at career events and community service projects. He is passionate about sharing his experience as an international student from India and a working professional in the U.S.
Stephen Burkhart ’16 ’19G ’22G is a devoted member of the Alumni Board of Directors and senior project manager at SNHU. In both roles, Burkhart inspires others with his passion for advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and involvement in local politics. His nominator said, “Stephen stands out and is a shining light for SNHU.”
A Return Home
The evening on campus continued with gatherings for the All Class Reunion and Greek Night in the Pub. Attendees enjoyed music from local band Cold Engines, appetizers and SNHU-themed cocktails while reconnecting with old classmates.
Jacqueline Braswell ’16 of Hillside, New Jersey and frequent Homecoming attendee, joined the celebration to connect with her favorite SNHU community members.
“Homecoming is very special to me,” said Braswell. “It was such an important turning point in my life when I decided to go back to school. SNHU embraced me, and I embraced SNHU. I love coming back every year.”
The weekend came to a close on a foggy Sunday morning with an outdoor Strive Cycling class hosted in partnership with the Deborah L. Coffin Women’s Center and The Chandler Center. Participants got their sweat on and made donations at the event to benefit the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation.
The perfect weather, buzzing campus and enthusiastic attendees made for a successful Homecoming return to campus. The momentum from two years of virtual Homecoming continued into Homecoming 2022, allowing more SNHU community members to join in the celebrations from wherever they call home.
For SNHU admission specialist and alumna Jessica Gallant ’17 ’20G, Homecoming will always be her favorite SNHU event.
“Homecoming has been one of the longest-standing traditions at SNHU. I went all four years of my undergrad,” said Gallant. “All the people that are connected to the university are such great people, and they make coming back worthwhile.”
Behind the magic of Homecoming are some dedicated SNHU staff in departments like the Office of Student Involvement.
“A celebration of this magnitude happens because a collective of student leaders, alumni, volunteers and staff work to bring the community together,” said Kristi Durette, associate vice president of Institutional Advancement at SNHU. “It felt good to pull SNHU folks together near and far in the spirit of SNHU pride and community.”
Save the date for Homecoming 2023, which will be Oct. 13-15. In the meantime, you can reminisce over this year’s Homecoming highlights by checking out the Facebook album.
Katie Dugan '20G is an advancement communications manager at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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About Southern New Hampshire University
SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.
Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.