Homecoming: World Campus Students Share Highlights and Benefits of Getting Involved

It’s almost time for Penn State to celebrate Homecoming Week, and there are plenty of ways for Penn State World Campus students to get involved and share in the excitement — both this year and in the future. You can join the Homecoming Committee, apply to be on the Homecoming Court, or join any of the Homecoming Week activities (which include virtual and in-person events).

We asked current and former Homecoming Committee and Homecoming Court members, along with World Campus students who have attended Homecoming events in the past, to share some of the favorite memories and any advice they would give to students who are considering getting involved with Homecoming or other World Campus organizations and activities.

Angela Gulotta

View of the football field at Beaver Stadium from above the crowded seats during a game

“Homecoming 2022 was my first visit to University Park, my first Homecoming Parade, and my first Nittany Lions football game. A group of us from the Homecoming Committee got football tickets way up in the highest bleacher seats. From the moment we stepped into the stadium, it was electric. I could feel the energy of 107k surging through my veins. We cheered, chanted, yelled, and shook our shakers for four magical quarters. In the end, the Nittany Lions crushed Minnesota 45–17. It was a dream come true.”

Ariel Ramos

Smiling woman with long blonde hair standing next to the Nittany Lion Shrine.

“Homecoming will always have a special place in my heart. As the inaugural Executive Director, I take great pride in all the hard work that was put into Homecoming then and in the years proceeding. I am so proud of all of the committee members that have made Homecoming a success each year. The dedication and time put into Homecoming shows!”

Brayden Caraynoff-Huber

“While I was not on the Homecoming Court last year, it was my first experience with other World Campus students. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the event. Working with my peers to represent World Campus in the parade was a real honor. This allowed me to become more involved and form lasting friendships with other Penn Staters.

Being involved in student organizations has many advantages. It will enhance your experience as a Nittany Lion. Not only will you be able to foster friendships, but you will gain valuable skills.”

Bryan Santillano

“Through the Penn State World Campus Homecoming Committee, I have the opportunity to help create content that will attract other PSU students and get them to come back. Such content includes our PSU World Campus Homecoming Website, in-person and virtual events, as well as a countdown to Homecoming Week and ‘100 days til THON’ posters. At the same time, it is beneficial to my becoming a film and video production major, as I will use this knowledge to produce films and, if possible, websites dedicated to such films. 

The advice I would give is, don’t be afraid to try out some organizations. You might find one that you really like. Everybody gets scared trying new things, especially clubs. It’s normal.”

Caitlyn DeBlaay, 2021 Court Member 

Smiling man and woman in Penn State gear sitting in front of the Nittany Lion Shrine.

“My favorite memory from homecoming week was taking a walk in the parade around State College and getting my picture with the Nittany Lion. Nothing compares to the excitement you feel being surrounded by so many Penn State lovers.”

Danielle Ray, Homecoming Court Relations Chair

Smiling woman with long brown hair standing in front of the WE ARE sculpture

“Being the Court Relations Chair has given me a great opportunity to learn about my fellow World Campus students and the amazing things they are doing and accomplishing. Feeling more connected to other students has made my overall homecoming experience a core memory.

Participating in organizations gives World Campus students a great opportunity to get the full college experience, whether that is connecting with fellow students and making a difference at Penn State or the broader global community.

World Campus has a great tool for calculating workloads, which gives students a good sense of the level of participation that keeps things balanced. It has helped me at different times to know whether I should be a member or a chair within organizations.” 

Gina Bakey, Undergraduate World Campus Court, 2021 

Smiling woman with long brown hair wearing Penn State gear standing next to the Nittany Lion mascot.

“In 2018, before I thought about continuing my education, I went to my first Homecoming game with my brother, who was a student at the [Penn State] main campus at the time. I loved driving up to visit, not thinking two years later that I would enroll at Penn State. I remember waking up super early the day after the Homecoming football game to meet the Nittany Lion in front of the student bookstore on College Ave. Fast forward to 2021, I was selected along with other students to be on World Campus’ Inaugural Homecoming Court. Being able to experience homecoming as a student and as a court member is something I truly treasure and reminisce on every homecoming season.” 

Lauren Wellar, 2022 Undergrad Court Member 

Smiling woman with long brown hair standing in front of banner with Penn State World Campus logo that says, 'Penn State Proud"

“I was honored to be on the World Campus Homecoming 2022 Court! I was able to attend all of the events in person, and I felt appreciated and like true Penn State royalty. One of my favorite memories from Homecoming 2022 was dancing and singing on the parade float that Friday night. I remember offering to play some music for our group, and we all ended up having a blast as we started “We Are” chants with every supporter we saw at the parade. It was a time that I will forever cherish, and I am thankful to have shared it with so many people and to have been nominated.”

Leah Boyd, 2022 Grad Court Member 

Assortment of Penn State items, including a towel with the Penn State paw and embroidered text that says, "Leah Boyd, Student Court 2022"

“I was never interested in high school homecoming because it wasn’t meaningful to me, but in college, it has meant everything to me! In college, it is not all about popularity, it is about recognizing passionate individuals and their desire to be not only their best but to help others achieve their best, too. To me, it is a shared honor. It wasn’t all about me, it was about what I represented and wanted others to see and experience. Homecoming made me a better leader. I was (and still am) very proud to represent Penn State World Campus. 
Being recognized in such a way through Homecoming, especially in a virtual world, absolutely changed the trajectory of my experience. I felt the honor, integrity, excellence, and community that Penn State is all about. Penn State World Campus brought me closer to other virtual students, and they helped motivate me to complete my academic journey and professional goals. I can’t say enough how much this experience means to me! I love Penn State, and it will be with me forever.”

Rebecca Foust, 2022 Undergrad Court Member and “For The Glory” Awardee 

Smiling woman wearing Penn State gear and a "For the Glory" sash standing next to the Nittany Lion Mascot

“I was so overwhelmed with emotion when they called my name that I was awarded the For The Glory Award. I was so honored to just have been nominated to the court. It felt like a dream come true. My experience at Penn State was an incredible journey that I never thought was possible. Going back to college at 40 was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Getting to go to homecoming, meeting my classmates, engaging with alumni, and meeting my adviser, Sarah Peacock, was so meaningful. I enjoyed every minute of such a wonderful experience … especially finally getting my photo with the Nittany Lion … just the icing on the cake!!!”

Learn more about the Homecoming Week activities you can attend in person or from anywhere.

For those planning to attend Homecoming events in person, we encourage you to consider joining us for the Student Leadership Conference, which will be held at the University Park campus on October 15 and 16. The deadline to register is Monday, October 2.

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