It’s the most 'adventurous' time of the fall semester

Elizabeth Pozzuoli, Camila Lopez-Bosch and Mary Balise make up the Homecoming Executive Committee. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami

By Ashley A. Williams

Elizabeth Pozzuoli, Camila Lopez-Bosch and Mary Balise make up the Homecoming Executive Committee. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami

It’s the most 'adventurous' time of the fall semester

By Ashley A. Williams
Students on the Homecoming Executive Committee have been planning for the last year to bring 'Canes a week of fun, food and fireworks.

Last fall, while most students were busy reminiscing about their homecoming celebrations, Camila Lopez-Bosch, a senior and chair of this year's Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC), along with vice chairs Elizabeth Pozzuoli and Mary Balise, were already planning for this event-filled week in October.

Right away, the team got to work by selecting the theme, forming the guidelines, coordinating with faculty and staff judges, and organizing each event. This year’s theme, “Your Greatest Adventure,” was revealed in September. A group of 30 students, better known as HEC, has been hard at work behind the scenes to surface events that will foster the spirit and tradition of the University of Miami community.

“I’ve been a part of this committee since my freshman year when I applied to be on the marketing committee and I loved it so much that I applied to be the vice chair,” said Pozzuoli, a junior majoring in public relations.

Advised by Student Activities and Student Organizations, the committee is composed of 12 smaller committees that oversee the planning from start to finish. Students apply in the fall, interview in February, and based on their unique interests, are selected to manage a particular committee of Homecoming.

Each year, HEC coordinates the many traditions that bring together thousands of faculty, staff, community members and alumni to commemorate UM. Traditions like Opening Ceremonies and Alma Mater Competition, Hurricanes Help the Hometown, Spirit Tree Competition, Hurricane Howl and more take place leading up to the Miami Hurricanes Homecoming football game on Nov. 3 at Hard Rock Stadium.

“My most fond homecoming memory, as cliché as it may sound, is the boat burning and fireworks show,” said Lopez-Bosch, a double major in marketing and finance. “It is the last day of the week, and it is the one moment where [our committee] can all relax and enjoy with the rest of the audience. The seniors always cry, there is always a lot of hugging, and it is hands down the best, corniest, most beautiful moment of the week.”

Often times, Balise said students at a university can fall into organizational silos that keep them involved with the same people. The committe enables students from all walks of life to come together and use their gifts to create memories for themselves and the UM community.

“The love of UM is like our unison, our bond kind of,” Pozzuoli said. “We are all leaders from different parts on campus and that’s what I love about being a part of HEC.”

Balise agreed. “We have people from all different parts of campus and it’s a great opportunity to meet people who are similarly passionate about UM and fostering its traditions. We are creating an experience for younger students and bringing back alumni from all over the world. It’s by far the most diverse group of people I’ve ever worked with while at UM."

“HEC and other programming boards on campus offer students the opportunity to work with others who think and act differently from what they may be used to,” said Joshua Brandfon, director of Student Activities, Student Organizations, and Student Center Complex Programs. “Each year I have the opportunity to witness a diverse group of students come together around a common goal and put together a spirted week of engaging festivities.”

As stressful as balancing their classes, internships and other responsibilities may be, watching it all come to fruition makes it worthwhile.

“I am not going to lie, it has not been easy; however, when you love what you're doing, it doesn't feel like work,” Lopez-Bosch said. “I can honestly say that the hours of meetings and preparation each week are fun, especially since I know how rewarding it will feel in the end.”

For her and Balise, this will be their final homecoming as undergraduates. As the first day of their last homecoming kicks off, they are looking forward to the small things.

“Like those moments where you're bonding with your committee through mutual stress and exhaustion. At the end of the week we have all gotten so close. We always say that we are an HEC family," Lopez-Bosch said, "but the week of [Homecoming] is when it actually becomes true.”

For a glance at their schedule of events, visit the Homecoming Executive Committee site.