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Families conquer campus activites

by Alyssa Gocinski / Beacon Staff and Jess Waters / Beacon Correspondent • October 23, 2013

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A student enjoys quality time with her family at the President's Breakfast.
courtesy of Steve Forsland
A student enjoys quality time with her family at the President's Breakfast.
courtesy of Steve Forsland

The campus crawled with a strange demographic — a mix of college students and parents adorned with Welcome Center swag bags, brochures, and souvenir water bottles labeled “Emerson College Family Weekend 2013.”

More than 500 families registered to attend Family Weekend, which ran from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20, according to Jason Meier, director of student activities.

Throughout the weekend, families had the option of attending academic receptions, open houses, information sessions, and other events that showcased what Emerson is really about and what its students are involved in.

Katherine Raymond, Family Weekend chair, said the goal of the program is to make parents feel like part of the community.

“With classes, tours, and student organization panels, their [families’] insights are significantly broadened and they can feel like Emerson Lions for a weekend,” said the senior marketing communication major.

Raymond said she thinks each event hosted during Family Weekend is equally important and informative. She said families can create an itinerary based on their interests and choose which events they wish to attend.

“Family Weekend allows families to see their student grow, possibly see a part of their student they didn’t know existed,” she said. “It’s an incredibly proud experience to see your student be involved, see where they go to classes, [and] see them grow.”

Shih Lan Liu, an Emerson mother, attended the Emerson Channel Information Session and a music journalism class. She said she found the events very interesting and had a good experience.

“I am very excited to see my daughter for the first time in two months,” she said. “I can see she is very happy here at Emerson and has made great friends.”

According to Raymond, plans for Family Weekend started to formulate in April, when a committee was selected. She said that once school started in September, the schedule and information for the President’s Breakfast and the Welcome Center were finalized.

Meier said he was very impressed by how well the program was executed.

“It is no easy task, but these students made it look easy,” said Meier.

The collaborative effort between students and faculty, he said, is also what made the event a success.

“So many campus departments and student organizations have to come together to showcase what [the college] provides,” said Meier.

Saturday night’s Family Weekend Talent Showcase and Sunday morning’s President’s Breakfast wrapped up the weekend’s festivities, according to Raymond.

The Family Weekend Talent Showcase, hosted at The Cutler Majestic Theatre, featured a five-part musical theater performance. The show closed with a medley of songs from Carousel, in which all 56 performers participated.

Victor Bilcik, an Emerson parent, said he and his wife both enjoyed the showcase.

“It was very entertaining,” he said. “The emcees [Breena Beck and Julia Sinks] were excellent and kept the show flowing nicely.”

According to Raymond, The President’s Breakfast, hosted at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, was a huge success. The buffet breakfast gathered families together one last time and served as the conclusion of Family Weekend, featuring a special speech delivered by President M. Lee Pelton.

“Students tend to sleep in while their families are attending our sessions, but I think the President’s Breakfast really allows for everyone to come together in a beautiful setting at the Park Plaza and enjoy a breakfast together,” Raymond said.

Matthew Chauby, a freshman visual and media arts major, said the event was uncomfortable because families were randomly seated with other families and faculty and subtly forced to socialize.

“I didn’t like that they had faculty members sitting at each table because it was intrusive to families’ conversations,” he said. “It was my last meal with my family until Thanksgiving, so I just wanted to talk to them.”

Some students and families said they weren’t interested in the events Emerson had to offer, and instead adopted their own weekend agendas.

Alexandra Nikolaidis, a freshman communication sciences and disorders major, said she visited Salem and dined at restaurants on Charles Avenue with her family.

“They just wanted to spend more quality time with me,” she said.

Ashley Howard, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major, said she went on trips to South Boston, the Esplanade, and Newbury Street with her family.

“I wanted to show them what I experience instead of what the school had to show them,” she said. “Since they’ve seen Emerson before, I wanted to show them what my life was really like here, through my eyes.”

Some students’ families were unable to visit altogether. Amanda Gutierrez, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major from California, said seeing other students with their families brought up feelings of homesickness.

 “I guess that’s what happens when you go to school 3,000 miles from home,” she said.

Lindsey Piechel, a freshman visual and media arts major, said she tried to make the best of her solo time.

“I spent the weekend studying for my midterm, chilling in my onesie, and getting adopted by my suitemates’ families,” she said.

Raymond said the weekend’s success comes from the college making families feel like they’ve come home.  

“The Emerson community is not about just the students, but their family,” said Raymond. “We are one big happy family, and that’s what this weekend is all about.”