Students, faculty, alumni invited to ‘Lean into Light’ at homecoming opening ceremony

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BYU cheerleaders rally an audience of students, alumni and faculty. The cheerleaders were present at the Homecoming Opening Ceremony. (Emma Butler Price)

BYU students, faculty and alumni gathered in the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Oct. 17 to kick off homecoming week. President C. Shane Reese remarked on this year’s homecoming theme, “Lean into Light.” Several campus groups performed. 

President Reese said BYU students and faculty carry a special light. He invited all to shine that light and, when needed, loan it to those who need it. 

“Your loan light is exactly what someone else needs right now. The Lord will use you for His sublime purposes and will bless you in ways you can’t even imagine,” President Reese said. 

President Reese’s words were followed with performances by the BYU Marching Band and the Folk Dance Team. The Folk Dance Team performed a traditional Ukrainian folk dance called the hopak to honor Ukraine. 

After the performances, alum President Hillary Nielsen announced the Brimhall essay contest winners. After announcing the honorable mentions and runner-ups, she invited John H. Gerbert, one of George H. Brimhall’s grandsons, to announce the overall winner. 

Gerbert announced that Erica Frandsen, a senior in biodiversity and conservation from South Jordan, won the contest and the $3,000 award. 

Frandsen was invited to read her short essay to the crowd. 

She spoke about this year’s founder, Martha Jane Knowlton Coray, in the context of the homecoming theme “Lean into Light.”

“If part of ourselves is always hidden or unacknowledged, we will never be fully illuminated,” she said. 

Liz Darger from the athletics department shared her thoughts about how remarkable and different BYU students are.

“You assist in groundbreaking research, you participate in practical humanitarian efforts, you solve real world problems, you seek to be moral and ethical leaders, you create beautiful art … you share a unique light, not for the praise of the world, but for the benefit of the world,” she said. 

After Darger’s remarks, Spencer Linton and Jarom Jordan from Sports Nation gave a recap of how BYU sports has done this season. They said overall, BYU has achieved 32 wins, six losses and three ties. 

The Cougarettes performed a dance routine to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” joined briefly by Cosmo, who wore a tuxedo and pretended to play the piano. 

BYUradio general manager Sam Payne and a band comprised of BYU alumni performed an original song about this year’s founder, Martha Jane Knowlton Coray. 

To conclude the opening ceremony, Marriott Center technicians put on a light show, illuminating audience members with colorful beams of light. 

President Reese invited the audience to get free lunch in Brigham Square following the ceremony.

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