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S.C. STATE HOMECOMING

S.C. State Homecoming: Miss USA's visit highlights 'super special event'

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Before South Carolina State University's Homecoming game on Saturday, the rose garden at Legacy Park will be dedicated to Thelma Williams, the mother of media entrepreneur and S.C. State alum Armstrong Williams.

CHRISTOPHER HUFF, T&D

With so many events on tap, this year’s South Carolina State University Homecoming will be a thrilling one, President James Clark said.

“It’s going to be a busy, busy and exciting Homecoming this year. We have a lot of things happening,” he said.

Clark said the big news is that reigning Miss USA Kara McCullough, a graduate of S.C. State, is returning to her alma mater for Homecoming events.

“And we’re elated and so proud of her,” he said.

McCullough will serve as grand marshal for the university’s Homecoming Parade. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, proceeding from Edisto Memorial Gardens to the S.C. State campus.

McCullough was crowned Miss USA 2017 in May, becoming the second Miss District of Columbia in a row to win the honor. She is currently a scientist with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response in Washington, D.C.

Another notable event is the dedication of the rose garden at Legacy Park at 11 a.m. Saturday. The garden will be named after Thelma Williams, the mother of media entrepreneur and political commentator Armstrong Williams, who is a graduate and major donor of S.C. State.

“We’re looking forward to that,” Clark said. “That’s going to happen right after the parade.”

Following will be the football game at 1:30 p.m. as the Bulldogs face Howard University at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.

Also during Homecoming Saturday, “there will be a variety of meetings and dinners and luncheons,” he said, including a private one for McCullough, a former Miss S.C. State, to meet with other college queens.

“Homecoming, especially at HBCUs, is a super special event. It is a time when alums come back to that cherished place,” he said. “A place where special bonds are made, lifelong bonds with the institution (and) with the people that they met there that have become friends for life.”

Homecoming is also a big social event, both on the field and off the field, he said.

“And yes, there’s a football game. And yes, you want to win the football game,” he said. “But you know what’s also a big deal out there is the band playing, the cheerleaders, the revelry and just the excitement in the crowd and the spirit there.”

And of course, there’s just as many people, if not more, participating in the tailgating, he said.

“Who has the best barbecue? The tailgating galore. So people will arrive days in advance, large RVs, and set up their tents, set up their cookers, and the place will be smoke-filled, with barbecue grills going,” he said.

“And you just have the time of your life,” he said.

And for the young adults, there are parties and dances, step shows and concerts and fashion shows. Events will be going on through the weekend “in terms of a fun-filled time, and it’s part of the experience people never forget,” he said.

Such experiences establish a bond and a connection, he said.

“And as a result, these classes come back and they give,” he said. “Because they want to support their alma mater that they have that special place in their heart for.”

Friday events include: the Former Athletes Golf Tournament beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Orangeburg Country Club; the ROTC Alumni Mentor Session at 11 a.m. at Soldiers Hall; Young Alumni Mixer at 3 p.m. at the Student Plaza; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Beta Sigma Chapter 1987 Spring and Fall Lines at Washington Dining Hall; the Stellar Alumni Calendar Unveiling at 5 p.m. at the Barbara A. Vaughn Fine Arts Center; the Class of 2007 Reunion Drop-In at 6 p.m. at Leroy Davis Hall; the Greek Step Show at 7 p.m. at Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center; and the STATE Club and Class of 1987 Oyster Roast and Fish Fry at 7 p.m. at the Student Center.

Other Saturday events include: the Alumni Tailgate beginning at noon at the football practice field near the stadium; and the National Alumni Association Throw Back Jam 5 at 8 p.m. at the Broughton Street Venue.

On Sunday, events include: the Alumni Farewell Breakfast at 8 a.m. at Washington Dining Hall; the Alumni Band Reunion Breakfast, also at 8 a.m. in Washington Dining Hall; and the Military Alumni Meeting at 8 a.m. in Soldiers Hall.

SCSU alum holds book signing

South Carolina State University alumna Keisha Esprit will hold a book-signing this Homecoming weekend.

The event will be held from 10.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, in the S.C. State bookstore. Seven of Esprit’s 11 books will be available in the genres of poetry and children's books. Esprit is an educator, motivational speaker, International Society of Poets honorary member and Editor’s Choice Award poet.

She is also a former track-and-field athlete who has achieved awards at both the NCAA Division 1 and NAIA All-American levels.

She is the CEO of www.EFMCI.biz and is a philanthropist who works to give back to the community.

Contact the writer: chuff@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5543.

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