Families gather, in person or in spirit, as annual event approaches

By Jill Disis

When most students think about homecoming, the first things to come to mind are the parties, football games, homecoming court, music and celebrations that all of the current students are anxious to experience. What is sometimes forgotten is that the event is also about celebrating the alumni of the University, and inviting them to “come home” and see how their school has advanced and evolved.

The parents and relatives of many current students are still excited to celebrate their Illini pride, just as they had done so when they went to the University.

Marybeth Kram, freshman in LAS, continues a legacy that began when her parents attended the University.

“It’s a very positive school in my family,” Kram said.

“My older cousin went here too. I’ve always known about the University.”

Kram’s mother, Mary Anne Sunich, class of 1981, recalled fond memories of her time at the University and said she was very excited that her daughter was able to experience similar successes.

“The new renovations are fantastic. The grounds are so well kept,” Sunich said. “My years at U of I were the best years of my life. I always have said that to my daughter. I’ve always been in contact with the friends that I have made there. Some of that has rubbed off on Marybeth. I could not be more proud.”

In an interesting twist of fate, her daughter was assigned to the same dorm building as Sunich.

“I also stayed at Blaisdell at PAR, the exact same dorm that she coincidentally got. The new renovations at PAR are amazing and I was very pleased to see the campus,” she said.

Sunich will not be coming down for the Homecoming game, but she still wishes the school well and she will continue to express a great deal of school spirit in the coming weeks from home.

Also celebrating will be the Anderson family. Kate Anderson, senior in Engineering, is very excited to be celebrating homecoming with a strong alumni background.

“Illinois offered a lot of opportunities outside of the classroom,” said Anderson of why she chose to attend the University. Her father is an alumnus of 1980.

Anderson fondly recalled that as a young child, her family would sometimes visit campus.

“We would stay at the hotel in the Union and walk to the Quad,” Anderson said. “My parents would take me to the ‘museum’ at the Natural History Building. I thought, ‘Wow, what a cool museum!’ I found out later that it wasn’t really a museum, but it was really interesting.”

Anderson’s father, Joe, also spoke warmly of his time at Illinois.

“I had a good time, it was a lot of hard work but it paid off,” Joe Anderson said. “I think the biggest part is it gave me the tools that I needed to succeed in life. Both of my kids are really glad they’re on campus. It’s great that they preserved the original beauty of the place.”

Joe Anderson will not be at homecoming this year, but he did mention that the family “usually goes to one football game.”

“We enjoy being together,” he said. “It’s something nice for everybody.”