Voices of NDSU
Voices of NDSU

Homecoming:

At the game, on the road, from afar, with family.

What does homecoming — the game, the week, or the feeling — mean to you?

Select submissions may be published online.

Members of the NDSU community share what it means to come home.

Matt Larsen

Matt Larsen

Director of Athletics

As the director of athletics, Homecoming is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s a popular time for coaches to bring recruits to campus. We want recruits to see that NDSU is a really special place, that the community is involved, and that athletics is important here. Homecoming is a great way to showcase that.

It’s the week people circle on their calendar. Bison Nation genuinely cares, and they invest in the University, whether it’s athletics or other areas. They want to see their institution, their alma mater, their hometown team have success.

I always say what we do at NDSU matters, but the Homecoming game has a different feel. There’s a buzz all week, and it’s important to make it a really special time for our current students, our recruits, and all the people who are coming back to campus. Homecoming represents so much of what makes NDSU special: the collective pride and passion everyone has.

Jaclynn Davis Wallette

Jaclynn Davis Wallette, MS '06

Director of Multicultural Programs

Home to me is the land. I was raised in the Turtle Mountains, so driving through the landscape between Fargo and northern North Dakota is very much a homecoming journey for me. It feels comforting to see the slopes, small lakes, trees, and rivers as I drive. I used to always drive the main roads home, but in the last 10 or so years, I’ve found new routes to take. I make things more interesting for myself by venturing off the beaten path.

One of my favorite family gatherings is our New Year’s celebration in the Turtle Mountains. Back home, there are two major cultures that thrive: one is the traditional Ojibwe, and the other is what they call Michif, which is a blend of Ojibwe and French lineages and the influence of the Catholic Church.

Lots of people used to come to my grandma’s house on New Year’s. People would go from house to house, and there’d be a soup called boulettes and bangs, which is a hamburger soup served with fry bread. Even though I don’t make it back home as often now, I try to make that meal yearly.

Here at NDSU and in our state, there are a variety of cultures. It’s important for everyone on campus to understand that what feels like home to you might still seem different to somebody from another culture. People come to our campus and communities with different ways of living, and we must be willing to listen to and welcome their ideas.

Laura Biewer

Staff Sgt. Laura Biewer '23

Nursing Student and Bison Ambassador

When I was younger, my hometown of Hickson, North Dakota, suffered from a flood. Many families were in a state of panic as their homes filled with water, but the North Dakota Air National Guard (NDANG) came to help sandbag. Watching this act of selflessness stuck with me, and I enlisted in the NDANG when I was 17 years old.

At first, I was so excited to leave home and gain some independence through the military, but I quickly realized how different life away from home could be. Different food, scenery, and accents made me feel homesick at first, but soon I was able to bond with others over our love of people and the things we value.

Being away from home has helped me shape a new way of thinking about it. I’ve found that even when I’m physically away, I can still enjoy the things I love most about my community. Once, I was going to miss seeing NDSU play in the National Championship game because I was training in a different state. I had been wearing my green and yellow to NDSU football games since I was 8 years old, so I was really disappointed. My friends knew it was a big deal to me, and they found a way to stream the game so I could watch it. It started out with just a few friends, but some people at training camp heard us cheering, so they joined in. Like me, they were seeking familiarity and a sense of comfort, and we were able to find it together by cheering on NDSU football. It showed me that home is not necessarily a place but a sense of belonging.

Photo by Tyberias Ford

Kim Timmers

Kim (Dennis) Timmers '83

NDSU Foundation Trustee

My grandmother, Thora Bettina Nelson Dennis Johnson, was a leader before women were often given leadership opportunities. She graduated from NDSU with a degree in mathematics in 1934. Very few women went to college back in the ’30s, so it was a pretty big deal.

Her first job out of college was as a teacher in Flasher, North Dakota. Partway through her first year of teaching, she was asked to step in as the school principal. She was only 22 years old. Later, she became an elected official. She was an inspiration for our entire family.

I graduated from NDSU in 1983 — 49 years after my grandmother graduated. She wanted me to stay at NDSU for an extra year so that my graduation would fall on the 50th anniversary of her own graduation, but I was anxious to start my career.

Instead, I attended my first Homecoming as an NDSU alumna alongside my grandmother, who was celebrating her 50th year as an NDSU alumna. We toured some of the older buildings she remembered from her time on campus, like Ceres Hall, Old Main, and Minard. She shared that when she was in school, NDSU’s campus gates opened to a dirt path, and people came in via horse and buggy. When I was on campus, strangely, those gates had been shut. There was grass and flowers and it was very pretty, but the gates weren’t open.

Now, when I come back to celebrate Homecoming and go tailgating with my nephew, who is a fourth-generation Bison and the eighth person in my family to attend NDSU, I’m really pleased to see that those gates have been reopened — that they’re doing what they should be doing, which is representing an entry point and welcoming the next generation of Bison.