October 06, 2023
As the University of Missouri community gathers for Homecoming celebrations this month, a Mizzou Engineering student is helping paint CoMo black and gold. A show-stopping parade, a city covered in campus decorations and a flurry of service events: this is Mizzou Engineer Annie Watson’s world these days, and she’s inviting all of us along for the ride.
Watson is serving as one of the Tri-Directors for Mizzou Homecoming 2023: First and Finest. We sat down with her and asked her to tell us a little about herself and what students can expect from this year’s festivities.
Please introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Annie Watson, and I am a senior electrical engineering and economics major. I got involved with Homecoming last year when I applied for Steering Committee. I love the tradition, and I really wanted to be a part of planning it, making it even better. After last year, I applied to be a tri-director. Now I oversee three committees, the blood drive committee, traditions, more commonly known as royalty, and campus decorations.
What is Mizzou Homecoming?
Homecoming was started in 1911 by Chester Brewer. He wanted alumni to come back for the Mizzou vs. KU football game, so, he hand-wrote a bunch of letters to alumni asking them to come home, and homecoming was born. Mizzou was the first homecoming in the nation. We like to say the finest.
We do a great job with Homecoming, with moving this tradition forward every single year and making sure that more and more people are getting involved. That’s something I’ve been really proud of this year; is we have more student orgs than ever participating. It’s really students coming together to help the community, the community coming to support students’ work, and it’s a week where people can celebrate Mizzou and also try to push it to be even better.
What is your favorite Homecoming memory?
Last year, I was part of the Parade Committee, and the morning of was so hectic and fun. It was so much fun getting everybody lined up, getting everybody ready to go. People were excited to be in it. There was literally a point where I ran, sprinted as fast as I could, from Brooks Hall all the way back to the Alumni Center because I realized that something was out of order in the parade lineup—which is actually a way bigger deal than people would realize because it involves the scripts and everything—so I sprinted all the way there, got it fixed and afterwards I was like, ‘I have got to breathe.’ It was organized chaos, and it was awesome.
Do you have a favorite Homecoming event?
I love campus decorations, mainly because I think it’s one of the main traditions where you see a lot of community involvement. It’s built for kids, which I think is cool and also really important because you can ask people walking around campus about it and a lot of them grew up coming to campus decorations and remember running around and going on the slides as a kid, and that builds a sense of pride for students who want to come back to attend Mizzou. I think it’s a very important tradition, but it’s also just a lot of fun seeing the kids have fun, get popcorn and get to interact with college students.
What are you most excited about for this year’s Homecoming?
I think I’m most excited for the blood drive this year. It’s one of the committees that I’m running, and they have been doing an amazing job. We have some awesome sponsors who are providing food for people who donate. We have raffle baskets that you can win if you donate.
What’s really cool about the blood drive is it’s one of the largest student-run blood drives in the nation. We’re expecting to bring in over 4,000 donations, and I’m really hoping that can happen. The country is actually in a national blood shortage right now. This drive helps support most of the Midwest, so it’s a huge deal that we deliver on it. I’m really excited to see all the Blood Committee’s hard work pay off.
Is there anything new for Homecoming this year?
Yeah, so we have a lot of new things this year, including a lot of partnerships. The first one that I can talk about is with RHA (Residence Hall Association). We’re doing a freshmen-centered event on that Sunday, Oct. 15, before the dome lighting. A bunch of food trucks will line up around all the dorms. All the freshmen will get a certain number of tickets for free food from the food trucks to eat while they’re painting the windows of their dorms to so that their dorms look more Homecoming-y, more decorated with school spirit. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for them — they are going to get a ton of awesome food truck food. Then hopefully they’ll go from there to the dome lighting.
The dome lighting is a newer tradition—and this is cool—last year, we used the Engineers’ Week switch to turn on the dome. I don’t know if we’re doing that again this year, but we definitely appreciate E-Week’s support in that. We’re also really excited for the musical artist who is coming this year, so stay tuned for that announcement!
Who are the other Engineers involved in Homecoming?
Tyler Schuster, mechanical engineering, is working on the parade committee. He’s doing what I did last year, mapping out the entire parade route. We do it through AutoCAD, so we definitely need an engineer in that role, and he’s doing a great job with that.
Madi Robinson, chemical engineering, is on the Blood Drive Committee with me, and she is our go-to organizer. She’s doing an amazing job with that, and she also works all the spreadsheets to keep track of all of the donations for the blood drive, so that’s a super important job. She also works on getting new sponsorships for the blood drive.
Elly Smith, also chemical engineering, is Top 10 Royalty. She will attend every event with her sash on. And then the King and Queen will be announced at the football game.
Are there any other Engineering connections to Homecoming this year?
We usually have a good showing of engineering organizations in the parade. This year, Mizzou Racing is in it with their race car.
Why should students attend Homecoming events this year?
I think that a general rule of thumb for college is you get out what you put in, and Homecoming is a time where everyone can participate in events. They’re all times where you can make memories with friends, whether you’re a senior and they’ve been your friends for four years, or you’re a freshman and you’re still looking to find your group. It’s a time set up for you have fun, and that’s pretty unique during college because at times it can be really stressful.
Also, as far as the blood drive goes, we really need donors, very badly. So, I would strongly encourage anybody who can donate, to donate. The blood drive will take place from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on October 9-12 at the Hearnes Center. To schedule your appointment, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter sponsor code MIZZOU.
Thank you so much for your time!
View the schedule of upcoming Homecoming events here.
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