Memories of alumni reunion remain fresh

It’s been three weeks since some 500 former GSU students who attended this university between 1985-90 came back to north Louisiana for their first college reunion.
But judging by the many photos taken at the May 23-25 reunion that continue to circulate across the world wide web, it may be hard to tell that the reunion of old classmates and long-lost friends wasn’t this past weekend.
“The reunion was a wonderful idea,” said Amy Williamson Barton, a reunion attendee who was also a marketing major at Grambling State University from 1988-91. “It was an incredible experience seeing so many people from the best years of my life.”
Williamson Barton, who works in the education field in Chicago, said when she was a student, GSU gave her the opportunity to meet people from every walk of life, in this nation and abroad.
“The reunion is the first of its kind, to my knowledge, and the timing couldn’t have been better,” she said. “I’ve been in contact with so many people I hadn’t spoken with in years, and have vowed to stay in contact with all because of this reunion.”
The reunion was organized by former Gramblinite editor Donald Lee and Sheila Johnson, an alumni of the former Northeast Louisiana University (now ULM), and featured a registration (meet and greet) at the Ruston Civic Center on May 23; a crawfish boil at the City of Grambling Park and an all-black attire party at the Monroe Civic Center on May 24; and reservations were made for attendees staying through May 25 to use the park in Grambling for any additional outings they wanted to hold.
Chantay Hawkins Warren, William Mayo and Sesame Teague, all of whom also are former Gramblinite staffers, played major roles in helping to make the reunion such a hit with alumni from the 1985-90 era. Jacqueline Crockett Lee also helped to ensure that lines at registration flowed smoothly, though the lines reminded a few former students of the time-consuming lines they stood in to get their fee sheets during registration for school back in the day.
Jacinda R. Johnson-McCree of Fort Worth, Texas, said it was a joy to be able to catch up with old friends without having to press through the massive crowds that are characteristic of homecoming.
“I thought that limiting attendance to a five-year range was also a good idea,” said Johnson-McCree, a Napoleonville native who majored in computer science at GSU from 1986-91 and is now a senior software technical writer.
Romondo “Mondo” Locke of Detroit, who attended GSU from 1989-96, said the reunion was far better than he had expected.
“The reunion weekend exceeded all my expectations,” said Locke, who is now a publications specialist for the Marketing department of the Detroit Public Library. “The number of people who came back to Grambling State University for the (Memorial Day) holiday weekend was truly remarkable.
Hawkins Warren said she was thrilled to see her sorors and other old college buddies at the reunion.
“I had so much fun. It was great seeing my line sisters from Alpha Theta ’89, former Gramblinite staffers, classmates and even teachers. And to think, it all started with an e-mail conversation,” she said.
“Before the reunion, I had not seen the campus in about 10 years and that’s way too long,” Hawkins Warren said. “Grambling has changed so much. I’m hoping the next time we can have some campus-centered events, like a campus tour to see all the growth.”
Derrick Robinson, a Chicago native living in Homewood, Ill., a Chicago suburb, gave the reunion two thumbs up.
“The reunion was one of my best experiences at Grambling since graduation,” said Robinson, who attended GSU from 1988-92. “Seeing people who were at Grambling the same time as me and seeing how God had blessed everyone was fantastic. I even hugged and talked to people that I didn’t have a relationship with while I was at Grambling.
“I hope this reunion is the start of many gatherings for alumni,” said Robinson, a photographer and satellite operator for the ABC-owned WLS-TV news station in Chicago, one of the top revenue-earning stations in the country. “After 20 years, my love for Grambling is still stronger than ever.”
Dana Tate-Ware, a Carrollton, Texas, resident who majored in accounting and CIS at GSU from 1987-91, said she had a ball at the reunion. “Seeing old friends and learning how well everyone is doing was very inspiring,”
Dana-Tate said. “Not only did we have a great time in school, but it looks like Gram turned out some great leaders, not that I’m surprised. We must do it again.”
Sharon Moore, a native of Sacramento, Calif., now living in Los Angeles, said she’s already hyped about the mere thought of last month’s reunion being the beginning of many more to come.
“I saw people I haven’t seen since I graduated and it was just a wonderful time,” said the former KGRM radio personality who attended GSU from 1986-91 and is an operations project consultant with Bank of America. “Sign me up for the next one.”
Lorri Payton, a Los Angeles native living in Las Vegas, said words can’t begin to describe the joy that consumed her during the reunion.
“It was more special because it was just people you knew and hadn’t seen in years all back at the special place we called home vs. at homecoming when there is EVERYBODY,” said Payton, a media director for V2 Creative, Casino Gaming Clients.
Evette Ferguson, who attended GSU from 1990-95, called the reunion “incredible,” adding, “I felt as if we went back in time for a moment. I had a blast.
“And the most beautiful thing of all, I got engaged to a fellow Gramblinite who wanted to propose to me at GSU because that is where we met,” said Ferguson, a publicist for an entertainment publicity firm in Hollywood.
New Orleans native Charlene “Silk” Jackson, a senior HR business partner with Lockheed Martin Corporation living in Dallas, called the reunion events “off the chain,” saying she cherished every moment she spent reconnecting with friends from college. Jackson attended GSU from 1989-94.
Tanya L. Moses, a native of Washington Parish now living in St. Tammany Parish, said with the pressures of dealing with life, the reunion was a welcome respite.
“It was a relaxed setting where you saw old friends, familiar faces and reminisced on the time when we were not faced with the pressures of the world,” said the special agent for the federal government.
“I thought the reunion idea was very innoavative. The website was creative and as more Gramblinites learned about the site it spread like wildfire. It generated a positive buzz and got people to reach out to people they otherwise had not talked to in years. For those who made it, I think they had an awsome time. For those who could not make the reunion, I know they can not wait for the next one,” said Jose Rahaman Jr., Detroit, Major, hospitality management, profession now is medical sales.
GSU President Horace A. Judson did not attend the reunion, but reunion organizers did invite him.
To see more photos from the reunion, visit http://www.gsureunion.com or http://www.youtube.com.