The campus of Pensacola Christian College teemed with excited alumni and their families during the 2023 Alumni Homecoming. Almost 1,500 graduates from 38 different states and all five decades traveled back to their alma mater to be a part of PCC’s 50th-year celebration. Alumni enjoyed reminiscing over the past while also looking toward the future for PCC.
Walking Down Memory Lane
Thursday, volunteers were waiting on the first floor of the Academic Center to welcome and check in attendees. Once checked in, guests received lanyards, welcome bags, and an itinerary for the weekend.
“When I left in 1983, we only had the Ballard and Coberly [residence halls] and the Administration Building!”
One item on the itinerary, campus tours, is always popular for returning alumni. Several tours were conducted throughout the weekend, led by zealous volunteers such as Doug and Karen Zila, alumni and current PCC faculty and staff. Many graduates, such as Clarence Mongomery (R.Y.D. ’80, Humanities ’83), thoroughly enjoyed seeing the new buildings on campus. “Our tour got to go behind the stage in the Crowne Centre,” Clarence shared. “It was really neat being able to see the inner workings of some of the buildings around campus. When I left in 1983, we only had the Ballard and Coberly [residence halls] and the Administration Building!”
Those here for this year’s Homecoming also had a chance to go to a riveting Legacy Chapel message. Dr. Jim Schettler (Bible ’79), Campus Church pastor from 1988 to 2006, spoke to current students and graduates alike about doing all for God’s glory. After the chapel message, alumni could spend the day touring campus, go on a local dolphin cruise, or travel to the National Naval Aviation Museum for a guided tour.
Perhaps one of the most looked-forward-to events of Alumni Homecoming was Gala—Celebrating Our 50th Year. Jared Sommer (Engineering: Mechanical ’20) and many other alumni joined students in the Crowne Centre for an enjoyable evening of musical and dramatic performances. “As a musician, I was really looking forward to the Gala. I thoroughly enjoyed the musical selections that were performed,” he shared. Having played in multiple musical groups as a student, Jared was able to remember what it was like to play several of the nostalgic songs featured in the program.
Reconnecting with Friends
Saturday morning, alumni marking a milestone year since graduation enjoyed an exclusive Reunion Brunch where old classmates, roommates, and friends could find each other and reconnect. Several attendees commented on the heartwarming stories and speeches from this event. An established nurse in North Carolina for Autumn Care Nursing and Rehab, Trisha Piero (Nursing ’13, M.S.N. ’15) specifically enjoyed reconnecting with PCC leadership at the brunch. “[It] was extra special,” she shared. “My husband and I were amazed at the kindness of Dr. [Greg] Mutsch, Dr. [Jim] Schettler, and Pastor [Denis] McBride.”
After the Reunion Brunch, all alumni made their way to Eagle Field for the Alumni Tailgate. Complete with a picnic-style lunch, firepits, and frozen treats, this tailgate allowed alumni to reconnect with old friends and make new ones in a casual, relaxed environment.
During the tailgate, many attendees swapped stories of favorite memories, teachers, and classes. Dr. Walter Yoho, a favorite among the student body from the early days of PCC, and former English faculty member Dr. Phyllis Rand, both present at this year’s homecoming, were frequently mentioned in conversation. Current education faculty Dr. Eric Bryant was mentioned as another favorite. “Dr. Bryant was hands-down one of my best teachers,” shared Heidi Andrews (Secondary Education: English ’19, M.S. Educational Leadership ’21), current Student Activities staff member. “He was tough on us, but in a loving way. You could tell he really loves the Lord.”
Heidi’s mother, Andrea Andrews (Secretarial Administration ’90), newly retired from almost two decades of service at PCC, expressed gratitude for all that the College did for her as a student and staff member. Noting the importance of this celebration, she added, “I’m glad I came!”
The Alumni Dinner concluded the weekend’s events. Once in the Four Winds, attendees were seated by decade. The menu, following the decades theme, featured memorable dishes from previous years including mac and cheese, meatloaf, éclair cake, and boboli—a pizza crust with mayonnaise, cheese, tomatoes, and ham.
During the dinner, President Troy Shoemaker thanked alumni for celebrating the College and reminiscing about times past over this special weekend. He then encouraged them to partner together with PCC and work toward strengthening the next generations for Christ. “If you haven’t already, join the Alumni Association and choose to invest in our students through mentoring,” he invited. “These college students see themselves in you. You’ve already ‘made it,’ and they look up to you because of that.”
“PCC did everything to make this the most fabulous experience it could be.”
Alumni left the dinner feeling very appreciated. “This homecoming was by far my favorite,” shared Amy Glenn (Secretarial Administration ’87). Having recently retired as PCC chief communications officer and committing over 40 years of service at the College, she was excited to visit campus again. “PCC did everything to make this the most fabulous experience it could be. It’s been a thrill and has warmed my heart to see all the history and how it relates to college students now. We all have a common bond in Christ that was evident to see during this homecoming.”
Alumni Homecoming 2023 blended the past and present in a special celebration, pointing all to Christ and allowing alumni the chance to celebrate PCC’s 50th year. From the stirring speeches shared at the Reunion Brunch to the many laughter-inducing stories swapped at the Alumni Dinner, this homecoming will be remembered for years to come.