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On Oct. 29, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, or NCAT, will begin its annual homecoming festivities, welcoming more than 25,000 people to the 800-acre university that sits in the heart of Greensboro. The Greatest Homecoming on Earth, or GHOE, includes the congregation of alumni, friends, and future and current students through weeklong events that prove why the university’s homecoming lives up to its self-acclaimed title.

“Homecoming is a chance for us to, one, be unapologetically Black and ourselves. And two, it’s a chance for us to reminisce how far we’ve came as Black people, most importantly, educated Black people,” Student University Activities Board President Landerson Young, an A&T junior, said. “And so, to see how far we’ve came from 1891 to now as a university, it’s just is a certain level of pride that I feel like nobody else other than HBCU students and alum can know and understand. Homecoming is special because you just get to experience Black joy in a different way.”

This year, thanks to the rigorous planning beginning in April by the university’s prominent organization leaders, attendees can enjoy a full week of events, such as the coronation of Mister and Miss North Carolina A&T State University, Aggies at the Met: Through the Elements fashion show, a pep rally with a special guest performance and the annual hip-hop concert featuring headliners Lil Durk and Summer Walker, with performances by Coco Jones, Flo Milli, and YTB Fatt, planned by Young and Student Government Association’s Vice President of External Affairs Michael Bivens. 

The annual homecoming football game is one of the biggest events for GHOE every year. (courtesy of NCA&T)

“A lot of the events comes from talking to our university partners and UPD to decide what makes the most sense, what do we think our students would want to see, and the safety aspect of what’s going to maximize the fun and happiness, but also keep our students the safest,” Young said. “As far as the concert, we start with a survey that we send out and post on our pages where all our students can fill out. We include some artists on there and then you can add the artists if you don’t see anyone that you truly want. It’s definitely a long process of talking to people of seeing how much they cost, going through background checks for these artists, but usually about the end of summer we know what our lineup is going to look like.”

Young explained the internal and external changes the campus will go through during the week-long event, including working with the Office of Accessibility Resources to ensure all students can fully experience all events, working with the University Police Department to create safety protocols and provide an unforgettable experience for attendees through visually appealing events, speakers and more. The university has already enacted GHOE policies, such as monitoring who is entering and exiting campus at a certain time and more security patrolling campus.

“Including everyone in this experience was a big thing that we wanted to focus on this year as opposed to last year,” Young said. “2020 was a lot, 2021 we were getting back into the motion of things but it was still not there. Last year was definitely a great homecoming, and this year we’re hoping to just match that by giving our students an experience and a chance to just be themselves and be seen in these spaces.”

Aside from planning homecoming, Young’s role as SUAB president include overseeing a board of 11, interns and new members, planning yearlong university events and serving as a friend and colleague to students, crediting her leadership style to her personality, personability and skills learned from previous SUAB presidents. Still, she found time to appreciate the elements within the university and homecoming planning process that affect her relationship with the institution. 

“Each year, my love for A&T grows stronger,” she said. “Even through the process of planning homecoming, it gets stronger every single year when I see the alum during the tailgate and how they treat the students, the future Aggies with their gear on, our royal court, and the parade.

“I’m excited for this year to connect with more alum,” she continued, “and allow them to share their experiences with homecoming and professionally to see where I could possibly be in the future. I think that the fact that we say we have the greatest homecoming on Earth within itself shows our Aggie pride.”

Commonly referred to as “Drip or Drown University,” A&T students are known for a fashion style that showcase the individuality and uniqueness that surrounds this campus, so around homecoming season nothing less is expected.

“It’s tradition to come with your best; even last year I had to come in with my best [outfit],” sophomore kinesiology student Alex Mitchell said  “Everybody’s going to be outside with fashion and I like how everybody got their own sense of style and they’re own swag. [Our style] represents Black excellence, Black culture, and what’s new and hot right now.”

Mitchell noticed a shift within the student body as homecoming approaches such as the growth of anticipation. He and his friends prepared for the upcoming festivities by completing schoolwork early, hydrating and reflecting on how the memories created from past homecoming increased their excitement for the upcoming. 

“I feel like homecoming is a great introduction to A&T’s culture because you’re going to see all different ages and generations,” Mitchell said. It’s going to be crazy to see like how we’ve changed and evolved and how Aggie still like prevail. We are proud Aggies, and we are the best HBCU.”

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