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Successful 2020 Virtual Homecoming and Family Week Concludes

Successful 2020 Virtual Homecoming and Family Week Concludes

This past weekend's portion of the week-long schedule for the University of San Diego’s annual Homecoming and Family festivities were presented much differently than ever before, but the first all-virtual event showcased many ways in which Torero pride was truly on display.

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Friday: The Fabulous Torero Casino Night Offered Fun, Funds to Support USD Students

The third annual Torero Casino Night — hosted by USD’s Parents Association and Office of Parent and Family Relations — was a grand opportunity to have some fun. A festive stage set-up (for livestream purposes), well-wishes from USD President James T. Harris, magic tricks, blackjack, Elvis Presley trivia with alumni, raffle prizes and live and silent auctions. There was even an Elvis impersonator to close out the show with classic moves and singing a medley of hits to get the live audience at home dancing and having fun.

Best of all, Casino Night, according to Parent and Family Relations Director Renda Quinn, raised $90,000 in net proceeds for what is annually the USD Parent Board’s signature fundraising event. These funds go to the Parent Partnership Fund, which supports USD students who lack sufficient food or housing and/or are at risk of leaving USD before completing their degree requirements due to financial hardship.

Saturday: Double the Alumni Pride with Virtual Commencements, Big Blue Bash

Just say the word homecoming and the immediate thought is a good time for people to return, to reconnect, swap stories and let the great memories flow freely. On Saturday, in the year 2020, even without being able to gather on the USD campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, without a tailgate party and a Torero football game to attend, there was still plenty to celebrate.

Two events served to remind us all about USD’s alumni base. Early in the afternoon, USD did its best to give the Class of 2020 some much-needed recognition and reward for a senior or graduate and law school final year that required resilience and was unlike any other in the university’s history.

Virtual Commencement took place and every graduating Torero in 2020 — from the College of Arts Sciences, USD School of Business and Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering to The Kroc School, School of Leadership and Education Sciences, USD School of Law and the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science and graduate degree programs within Professional and Continuing Education — was recognized. To see your specific ceremony, visit the Commencement webpage.

A little later in the day, a one-hour virtual Big Blue Bash program offered a spirited event that included games, contests and entertainment as well as a few Zoom conversations with Torero alumni across the nation, some alumni shout-outs from around the world and a USD-themed trivia contest featuring members of the USD Alcala Club. Famed USD mascot Diego Torero made an appearance (with the required face mask), a few lucky raffle prize winners earned gift cards, and a grand prize two-night hotel stay was awarded by Lupe Velez Manriquez, current USD student and chairperson for the Torero Program Board. The Big Blue Bash was co-hosted by Manriquez, USD Media Relations Director and alumna Lissette Martinez ’03, Greg Camarillo, a coordinator for scholar-athlete development in the USD Athletics Department, and Jack Cronin, who among his many broadcasting roles includes being the play-by-play voice for Toreros football, men’s basketball, volleyball and men and women’s soccer.

Sunday: Alumni and Family Mass, Golden Toreros and Parent of the Year

Closing out the week was a virtual Mass inside The Immaculata Catholic Church, one of the defining spaces on the USD campus. Presiding over Mass was Monsignor Daniel J. Dillabough who not only remains a fixture at the university in his role as vice president for University Mission and Ministry, but he is also a 1970 USD graduate, earning his bachelor’s degree in philosophy. As a 1970 alumnus, he’s also a member of this year’s USD Golden Torero class that is celebrating 50 years in 2020. All Golden Toreros annually have a weekend of events on campus during homecoming, but due to the pandemic, conditions did not allow for a social gathering to take place. One of the highlights is dinner with President Harris and recipients are bestowed a gold medal medallion placed around their neck by Harris. At the conclusion of Mass, Harris presented Msgr. Dillabough with his medallion. During Mass, Dillabough reflected on 1970 and a few memories, too (at the 12 minute, 30 second mark of the video) as part of his homily.

Also, part of Sunday’s programming was Charles Bass, senior director for alumni relations, providing a few comments and then introducing a photo collage, set to an instrumental version of The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun, for the 1970 class. According to Harris, the hope is to invite 1970 alumni back to campus at Homecoming next year when they’ll be joined by the 1971 class, too.

And finally, another tradition at this Mass is the honoring of the Undergraduate Parent of the Year award, presented by Office of Parent and Family Relations Director Renda Quinn ’86. On a Zoom call, Quinn announced Antonieta “Tonis” Manriquez as this year’s Parent of the Year. A 1988 USD alumna and a USD employee for 27 years, currently serving as assistant director of university centers, Tonis was nominated by her daughter, Lupe Velez Manriquez, a current USD student. Lupe read her beautiful nomination letter about her mother to her during the short ceremony.

In Closing ...

Prior to the weekend events, Homecoming and Family Week also saw the university's day of giving, Torero Tuesday surpass $1 million through the generosity of our alumni, parents, students, employees and friends. President Harris provided a State of the University address on Oct. 14 and Senior Alumni Relations Director Charles Bass hosted a Toreros Talk with inspiring stories from four alumni, Joy Utomi Hartmann '11 (JD), Salvador "Chava" Mercado-Cano '06 (BA), Dr. Kecia Brown '00 (MA, SOLES) and Nursing's Deena Drake, '13 (MSN), '19 (PhD). ... A big USD thank you to the many generous company and individual sponsors, including alumni or alumni-owned companies. For Torero Casino Night, USD thanks the following: Royal Flush Sponsors – US Bank, Lisa and Ben Arnold, Bartell Hotels; Full House Sponsors — HomePlus (NMLS 78669), Kent and Karen Hayden and San Diego Gas and Car Wash; Blue Chip Sponsors — Jason Barry Team with Barry Estates, The Benyamin Family, Liz Caldwell Group, Compass Florida LLC, The Jefferies Family, Renee and Kem Kantor, The Needleman Family, The Qualls Family, Colleen and Marc Rovetti, Vision Plan of America, Wonderfront Music and Arts Festival; Blackjack Sponsors — Michael and Abir Abdou, Marco ’84 and Kim ’87 Alessio, Steve and Jimi Billigmeier, Ryan Joseph Clayton ’20, Brandon Michael Clayton ’16, Corinthian Title and Escrow, The Gaffney Family, Deena ’88 and Greg Holcomb, The Humbert Family, joe ’86 and Carrie Holmes, The Nagle Family, The Prendiville Family, SnapNHD (Will Caldwell ’13, ’15), TAG Presents LLC, and Sondra and Paul Thornton. Furthermore, the USD Homecoming and Family Week Virtual Photo Booth was powered by CEG Interactive.

— Compiled by Ryan T. Blystone

Video coverage throughout Homecoming and Family Week by Allyson Meyer ’16, ’21

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