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Alumni share their side of Homecoming Week

Students today see USF as a huge campus consisting of the Marshall Center, library, dorms and Starbucks. Though some of those places have stayed the same through the years, back in the 80’s, it was a different place. 

Alumni remember the campus before it evolved into what it is today. 

Carlos Rodriguez, a chemical engineering student from USF’s Class of 1982, remembers USF as a completely different place than it is today.

“(USF) was such a small campus,” he said. “A lot of the buildings were still being developed (and) it was so far from Tampa and there weren’t nearly as many dorms, so there were many students living off campus.

“There wasn’t even a football team at that time!” 

Rodriguez, a USF football season ticket holder, said he comes back every year for the homecoming football game. He said his favorite part is tailgating because he is able to see all of his old friends.

After homecoming evolved from the annual event to celebrate the start of basketball season and became football-centered when Bulls football first debuted in 1997, even more recent alumni will say tailgating can be the highlight of the week.

Alumna Adrian Ruiz, who won the Alumni Association’s 2015 Homecoming Photo Contest, received two VIP tickets to the alumni tailgate and two tickets to the Homecoming football game Saturday, as well as a hotel stay for Friday night. 

Ruiz graduated from USF this past May with a bachelor’s degree in communication. She currently works on campus at the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

“Being an older student, I never really had the traditional college experience,” Ruiz said. “My husband also works at USF and we have two children. So we all kind of experienced USF as a family.”

While she attended many homecoming events in the past as a student, this year will be different for her.

“This will be my first time actually being around other alumni,” she said. “It kind of takes on a different meaning attending as alumni and being able to network.”