Highlands University will Celebrate Homecoming with a Mix of In-Person and Online Events 

Highlands students enjoy the warmth of a bonfire

September 10, 2021

Homecoming week at New Mexico Highlands University begins Monday, September 27, and will feature a range of events and activities both online and in person.  

In 2020, Highlands Homecoming was held almost entirely virtually, but this year’s hybrid schedule of events offers in-person activities alongside online options. Due to the surge in Delta, the football game on Saturday, October 2, will be limited in capacity to 2,500 attendees. Tickets can be purchased in advance at nmhuathletics.com.  

To further ensure the safety of all students and community members the parade and the student dance have been cancelled.  

“We can’t control COVID safety protocol when things are not on our campus,” said Alumni Affairs Director, Juli Salman. “While we’re committed to figuring out ways to move ahead safely, we can’t manage things that don’t take place on our campus.”  

Additionally, although the HU Club banquet was scheduled to be on campus, the Club decided to cancel out of an abundance of caution. Salman said there is still a lot of events that Homecoming attendees can still look forward to, however.  

The Painters Exhibition, which will be available for viewing in person and online, opens September 12 and runs through the end of October. And due to the popularity of the inaugural HU Talks that were launched last year, Salman has decided to bring them back. The talks begin on Monday, September 27 and will run through Thursday, September 30. Modeled on TED Talks, the HU Talks will run 15-20 minutes each and will allow for 10 minutes of Q&A. Faculty, staff, and community members will offer talks on a wide range of topics from the positive aspects of stress, to New Mexico food traditions, to sports—and much more.  

“We came up with the idea for HU Talks during COVID last year because we had to think of creative alternatives to in-person events,” said Salman. “It was hugely successful—we had as many people attend those talks as attended our previous homecomings in person. So, we decided to build that into homecoming again, because it was so nice to to feature faculty and community members and staff members who are able to share their passions with the world.”  

All HU Talks will be conducted on Zoom and will be accessible through the same link throughout the week. The link will be available at nmhufoundation.org.  

On Wednesday evening, Highlands students will have the opportunity to participate in the Sashing Barbeque at 5 p.m. in Central Park. Nominations for Homecoming King and Queen are open now and will remain open through September 28. Students nominated for Homecoming King and Queen will be introduced at the Sashing Barbeque on September 29. 

“Students will be invited to have some food and mingle,” said Student Development Coordinator, Jaycie Loud. “Then students will be able to vote for the homecoming court on Thursday and Friday and winners will be announced at halftime on Saturday.”  

At the barbeque and all other events, students will be required to mask and practice social distancing so as to ensure safety for the community. Despite the few cancellations in the schedule of events, following safety protocols will allow for in-person events.   

“I’m most excited about the fact that we will actually have a football game,” said Loud. “I’ve been with Highlands for a little over a year now and I’ve never been to a football game, so that’s exciting. It’s also something for students to look forward to so I’m just hoping that we’ll be able to take their mind off things and they can cheer.”  

Homecoming attendees can look forward to a range of in-person activities leading up to Saturday’s football game. Beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday morning, October 1, President Minner will host the traditional President’s Coffee at Centennial Park.  

“It’ll be an open-air meet-and-greet event with coffee and light refreshments to welcome alumni and the community to Homecoming,” said Salman.  

The Cowboy Lounge & Silent Auction will begin on Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Sanchez Stadium. For $10, attendees will enjoy a meal catered by The Skillet, 70s music, cocktails, and a silent auction with a range of items from jewelry, sports memorabilia, one-of-a-kind art pieces, and trips to Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Mexico.  

“I’m most looking forward to the Cowboy Lounge,” said Salman. “It’s going to be under the stars and it’s a casual, comfortable event for people to come to. We’re going to show them a good time!”  

The Student Bonfire will follow the Cowboy Lounge at 9 p.m. and will also take place in Sanchez Stadium.  

According to Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Joseph Dominguez, the bonfire is a relatively new homecoming tradition, but he’s worked closely with the safety office to ensure that it will happen this year and in years to come.  

“I think this year, being that the parade and dance are cancelled, we’re going to get a lot of participants,” Dominguez said. “Between the campus police and safety officers who will be there and the social distancing and masks we’re hoping to have a safe event.”   

According to Dominguez, the bonfire will roll in elements of a pep rally and he said Ilfeld Auditorium manager Donna Martinez will be coordinating a Homecoming Court showcase for candidates running for King and Queen.  

Homecoming activities will culminate on Saturday, beginning with a 5K run on the Gene Torres Golf Course. Kids will also be able to participate in the Kid’s K. Salman said she is hoping for a good turn-out for the run this year since it’s an activity that can be done safely.  

Although the parade is cancelled, the accompanying breakfast burrito bar is still on the schedule for Saturday, but the location and time are still be finalized. Alumni can then head over to the Champ Tyrone building parking lot for the Alumni Tailgate that begins at 10 a.m.  

“Our alumni board completely handles that,” said Salman. “We cook for everybody who comes by—hamburgers, hotdogs, bratwurst, and whatever else we can manage.”  

At 12 p.m., the Highlands University Cowboys will play the Chadron Eagles from Nebraska at the Sanchez Stadium. At halftime, the Homecoming King and Queen will be crowned and distinguished alumni will be recognized for their contributions the university. This year’s distinguished alumni include Maria Rita Jaramillo, Michelle Bencomo, Leon Bustos, and Briana Zollner. 

To conclude the event-packed week, the Vatos Alumni Rugby will play in Sanchez Stadium immediately following the football game.  

“We’re looking forward to seeing our Highlands family this year at our in-person and virtual events, celebrating the Cowboy spirit with sensible precautions that keeps everyone safe,” said Highlands President Minner. 

For a complete schedule of events, visit https://www.nmhu.edu/homecoming/