Homecoming sparks pleasant memories for alumni

Alumni reflect on their Homecoming experiences and their years at Troy University.

Alumni reflect on their Homecoming experiences and their years at Troy University.

Homecoming is traditionally an exciting time at Troy University when thousands of alumni make a special pilgrimage back to their alma mater.

The planning process is practically year-round, with the Student Government Association working closely with Alumni Affairs and the university administration to make Homecoming one of the highlights of every academic year that passes.

Traditions run deep with Troy University’s homecoming week, and it’s a special time of celebrating and reconnecting Trojans from the past, present and future.

TROY’s alumni play a special role in the life of the university, and they have made tremendous contributions. They also tell great stories, like alumna Carolyn H. Gibson.

“One of my favorites memories was meeting my future husband (Don Gibson), who was employed by Troy State College as director of men’s residence,” Gibson said. “But my greatest memory about the university was standing in Sartain Hall listening to Dr. Ralph Adams (Chancellor from 1964 to 1989) announce that Troy State College was approved to become Troy State University. The entire campus erupted into a joyous celebration.”

Gibson, originally from Jack, Alabama, was a non-traditional student, having first attended a business college in Montgomery before moving to Troy in the mid-1960s to begin a career. Soon, she realized she wanted more from life.

“I quickly realized I wanted to be associated with the campus and to continue my education,” Gibson said. “I accepted full-time employment with Troy State College, and I continued to take college courses.”

Gibson worked at the university for many years, the last 17 as director of job career placement. She was the founding director of the Miss Troy University pageant. Her husband, Don, was for many years known to students as “Dean Gibson,” in his capacity of Dean of Students and various other key administrative positions at the university.

Gibson is now retired and lives in Georgia, but she returns to TROY often and is a member of the National Alumni Association board of directors. Her oldest grandson is a senior at TROY. “Homecoming for me brings so many wonderful memories of my years at TROY,” she said. “Getting ready for the week with displays, which were all over campus; the parade with handmade floats; bands; Homecoming court elections; thinking about what to wear on Homecoming Day; the big pep rally; the football game and the anticipation of a celebration all week.”

Troy University trustee Gibson Vance is a Troy native who moved away in fourth grade, but his Trojan roots called him back in 1985 to pursue his undergraduate degree. He was active as a student, majoring in political science with a business minor, and participating in Greek life as a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. He also served as a Trojan Ambassador and worked as a pre-college orientation leader for new students.

“Some of my favorite memories are from my time working in the Admissions Office and being an orientation leader,” Vance said. “When I think about Homecoming at TROY, I think about how special TROY is, with special memories. When I set foot on campus during Homecoming, all of those special feelings and memories come flooding back. Each and every year is more remarkable than the last.”

Vance is now president of the TROY Board of Trustees, and is an attorney at Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery.

Troy University has seen many changes since its founding in 1887 as Troy Normal School, one of Alabama’s original teacher training schools. Since then, it has produced many educators like Tammy Horton of Prattville.

Horton grew up in Ozark, and she chose TROY because it was near her hometown and because she knew she wanted to become an elementary school teacher.

“I look forward to coming to TROY for every home game, but especially for Homecoming,” Horton said. “I love the fun, the football and the tradition. I’m proud to be part of the TROY family.”

Horton enrolled in the fall of 1986 and earned a major in early childhood education before teaching kindergarten in Prattville for many years. She’s now a pre-K coach with the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The theme for Homecoming this year is “Trojans One and All,” with a full week of activities culminating on Saturday, Nov. 9, with the Homecoming Parade at 10 a.m. in downtown Troy, and the Trojans hosting the annual Homecoming Game at 2:30 p.m. against Georgia Southern.