When I got my first piece of Temple Alumni mail before I’d even donned my cap and gown, I laughed. And then another came. And another. And then, not a month after I’d given the Commencement speech in the Baptist Temple, a brochure about Temple Alumni Weekend. Holy cow, did that make me feel old.
So I flipped through the different events. A Phillies game. A trolley tour. A 5K. A TED talk. A spring game. Wait, a 5K? I yelled across the house to my mom; I could do that. And so, she checked her calendar, I checked mine, and we registered that night. I was going to my first Alumni Weekend. And I was running a 5K.
I’ve run a lot of 5Ks. Well, ten, to be exact. This summer, while living in Colorado, I ran a 5K every week–during wildfires, Olympic Games, torrential downpours. And I did it because I was proving something to myself. And while those runs were incredibly important to me, this one seemed to mean just a little bit more. With the Boston Marathon bombings only six days earlier, I donned my Red Sox hat out of solidarity. I was going to finish this race to prove something else this time, to prove the terror couldn’t win. That even though I don’t run, I could do one small race to finish this for Boston.
My mom and I met my sister, Meghan, at Founder’s Garden, checked in, and were handed bibs (My first bib! Big deal here…) and #BostonStrong bracelets. Mom and I were in the walkers group, looking for a more leisurely Sunday morning than the competitive runners who registered wearing Philadelphia Marathon, Boston Marathon, and Broad Street Run jerseys. We took the loop around campus, walking past some of my favorite buildings, laughing at the racewalkers, and we were cheered as we crossed the finish line by all the competitive runners, which was the best feeling. In Colorado, we weren’t usually cheered by spectators as it was a weekly, mundane event, so it was an exciting moment.
After the walkers finished, the runners lined up on the starting line, and after a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, they were off. I snuck off to the refueling tent to grab a cornbread muffin and a water bottle, and as I walked back, Meghan was completing the first loop, solidly in second place. She completed the race clinching second place overall and first in the women’s division. I was very proud, but I had to laugh…this was Alumni Weekend and I was the alum here! She hasn’t even graduated yet!
I’m all about school spirit. I’m pretty I own more Temple gear than any Owl really should (as if that’s actually possible). But when we got to Founder’s Garden, the sheer amount of people wearing cherry took me by surprise. So many proud alumni came out, just to come back to their school and enjoy a great day. They had their kids, their friends, their parents, their spouses. All to show their pride for Temple.
I’ve never really counted myself as an alum. I’m 21 years old and younger than most of my classmates who haven’t even graduated yet. I think of alums as the people who have accomplished things in the world, who bring their kids back, who stroll around and reminisce and take in all the changes to campus. That’s not me. I graduated less than four months ago. The campus hasn’t changed. I haven’t accomplished great things. But today was the first time I felt like the alumna I am. I had never met any of the people I raced with today, but we all had something in common. We all have degrees from the school that was perfect for each of us; we all love Temple.
Happy Alumni Weekend…and go Owls!