When Drexel University students look back on their time in college, they will remember their classes and co-ops, their campus activities and city adventures.
But they will also remember, perhaps just a bit more vividly, those times they chose to come together and show their Dragon pride — and this year, a record number of students made such memories during Drexel Homecoming 2020 and its adjoining Spirit Week.
“It was record attendance at every single event, which was great,” said Assistant Athletic Director of Recreation for Drexel Athletics Bryan Ford. “It definitely felt next-level. People knew what to expect and knew what was going on, as opposed to previous years fighting that uphill battle.”
This was the third year for Drexel’s weeklong winter tradition, which ran from Jan. 13–19 and included Spirit Week Competition events, the Men’s Homecoming Basketball Game (spoiler alert: they won), the crowning of the Royal Dragon and special alumni events. The week of events kicked off at the Bonfire on Jan. 13, which students had voted in a previous DrexelNow poll as the Homecoming event they were most looking forward to, and it showed as participation nearly doubled from the 2019 event.
For Anastacia Feoktistova, a third-year environmental science major and the captain for the Campus Activities Board’s (CAB) Spirit Week team, her favorite events came the next two nights with the Battleship Competition and the Variety Show, both of which her team placed in (second and third place, respectively).
“I think I liked Battleship the most because I didn’t realize how fun it would be and I was super nervous,” Feoktistova said. “I was getting smashed in the face with water the whole time when I was in the boat, but it was truly OK. I had a great time while I did that.”
The CAB Spirit Week team’s Scooby-Doo skit was also Feoktistova’s idea and a huge reason she volunteered to be captain.
“The acts that got first and second were beyond amazing,” she said. “I was so happy for them, I was like, ‘Yes, you should have won first place.’”
It was her team’s ode to another TV character — Baby Yoda — which helped her team rack up points in the Window Decorating competition held throughout the week in the Rec Center Lobby and open to student votes. Placing high in this event ultimately helped CAB clinch the first-place Spirit Week team title this year, as well as the $1,000 in Dragon Dollars and the bragging rights that come along with it.
Feoktistova was ecstatic to win first place and was so proud of her team, but even if they placed last, her goal as captain was just to merely make sure that everyone had a good time participating.
“All the events are super great. It just makes me happy,” she said. “I loved Homecoming. I didn’t realize how much I’d love it. I’m a big person for if everybody has fun then I don’t care.”
Allie Do, a third-year computer science major who participated on the 2020 Homecoming Court, was similarly surprised to even be accepted onto the court, let alone to be announced as the winner during half time at the basketball game.
“I didn’t really care about losing or winning, I just felt really, really proud to be here,” she said. “I feel so lucky that I’m a Drexel Dragon.”
Do decided to run for Royal Dragon after meeting a first runner-up from the 2018 court. Then, the president of Drexel AI, which Do is also a member of, as well as Drexel VSA offered to nominate her on behalf of the organizations.
After she was named to the Homecoming Court, Do reached out to friends and fellow Dragons she had met in classes, as well as campaigned by stopping in at the library and handing out candy.
“Campaigning helped me get to know more people, and it’s a great excuse to start a conversation and build relationships,” she said.
And all that hard work paid off. After a week-long student vote via Dragonlink, Do took home the crown and a $500 scholarship.
“I was really surprised to get that support from my peers,” Do said. “… I think I ended up winning because I have a lot of friends that are really kind and are always willing to support me. I don’t think I could have won this on my own.”
For any student on the fence about getting involved with Homecoming in the future, Do would encourage them to attend at least one event, like the Bonfire or the Basketball game, to see what it’s all about.
“I think Homecoming is important because it helps you to acknowledge your pride of being a Drexel student and you get to manifest it in the activities throughout the week,” she said. “I’m really, really proud of being a Drexel student. Drexel has helped me grow and get out of my comfort zone and get closer to my dreams.”
Feoktistova said Homecoming is an important tradition because it’s a way to bring student organizations and individuals together to bond and participate for a common goal. It’s also a great way to kick off the Winter term annually after the extended winter break.
“It’s literally ‘Homecoming,” which is really nice because it helps you bring back that school energy,” she said.
Ford said the University’s goal in continuing to bolster this annual tradition and get it into students’ hands is to give them a reason to come back to campus and continue their participation as alumni.
“It’s important that students feel that connection to their university and feel pride,” he said. “No matter what their little pocket of the University, this is a way for them to showcase that pride.”
For Do, Homecoming is definitely something she’ll add to the memory bank of her time at Drexel.
“Part of the reason why I wanted to be a part of this is because I want to be really, really involved… I don’t just want to think back and know that all I did was sit in classes and listen passively,” she said. “I want to be involved on campus and be a part of something that I could look back to years later.”