During my college discernment process, I fell in love with the University of Dayton because of how friendly everyone was on campus. My cousin Mick, a 2013 UD alumni, had told me I would hear the word 'community' from practically everyone at UD. I had thought I understood what 'community' meant, but witnessing the gathering of alumni on campus this past weekend for the 2018 Reunion Weekend showed me what 'community' really meant here at UD.

So why do hundreds of alumni come back every year? What draws them back to the porches of the infamous 'Ghetto' (now called the Student Neighborhood)? When asked what they love about UD, most alumni looked and gestured around them saying "This!" When prodded further, many alumni answered with "the community." One lady summed it up nicely with the catchy phrase "The 'Ghetto', the streets, the people."

As we welcomed them onto our porch, they described how only at UD would current students be so welcoming and actually interested in spending time with the alumni. They said that this attested that what makes UD unique is how you can make connections with everyone. As I talked with each alumni, I enjoyed how we all seemed to have something in common and felt like we were friends, whether they graduated 1 year, 10 years, 20 years, or even 50 years ago.

Not to mention how long and strong these connections are. While one man has not stayed in touch with his high school peers, he has still stayed in touch with his friends from UD even though they all live far apart from each other. His advice is to "Come often, [Reunion Weekend] is the one time a year to see each other."

Although he and his friends don't always keep in contact and can't always make it back every year, one alum claims that the connections formed at UD are lifelong with them being able to pick up where they left off when they next see each other. What draws alumni like these back to UD every year is the opportunity to see their old college friends, who for many have become like family. One group of close-knit friends even formed a band and are still together after 25 years!

While we celebrate our love throughout the school year, the love for the University of Dayton (UD) was most evident to me this during Reunion Weekend. Having the opportunity to talk with recent and older graduates and to see UD through their eyes helped me to remember why I fell in love with UD: the community. So thank you to the alumni that visited for showing us that the UD family is enduring and for making us feel a part of it! The students of UD want you to know that you are always welcome on our porch anytime and we look forward to seeing you next summer!

(P.S. Special thanks to the Class of 1998 for giving us your balloon and so much advice!)