Paris Hawkins, the May Prince, gets a hug from Cessna Kleinmoedig Veeris, WC '02, during the Brenau University Alumnae Reunion Weekend on Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Paris Hawkins, the May Prince, gets a hug from Cessna Kleinmoedig Veeris, WC '02, during the Brenau University Alumnae Reunion Weekend on Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Forever Home: Brenau Celebrates May Day 2016

Apr. 16, 2016
Brenau Staff

Hundreds of Women’s College graduates returned to Brenau’s Gainesville campus for the university’s Alumnae Reunion Weekend and May Day festivities April 15-16.

Friday and Saturday’s events were marked by tears of joy, tears of nostalgia and tears of remembrance. Following the traditional class day, May Court and Maypole wrapping ceremonies, alumnae and their families toured the Brenau campus and visited the university’s new sorority buildings, met with old classmates and viewed the annual May Day student fashion show and Brenau Collaborative art exhibition.

It was the sixth May Day for Rosalind Bowers Bennett, WC ’71, who was there to see the dedication of the new Alpha Delta Pi Lambda Chapter house. The early childhood major is set to retire from Centennial Arts Academy in Gainesville at semester’s end. “Brenau has been such a major influence on my life,” she said. “I just love to come and see the campus and I’m so proud to be a Brenau girl.”

Alumnae Reunion Weekend is something Ambah Frederick Kioko, WC ’01, looks forward to every year. The biology major, who has been a school psychologist for DeKalb County Schools for the last 10 years, has attended every May Day celebration since 1997. “I get kind of teary-eyed when I see everybody here,” she said. “It makes me feel the same way I felt when I was back here in ’97. Everybody’s like a family.”

Fourteen notable Brenau graduates were recognized at the annual Outstanding Alumni Awards. Former Brenau Board of Trustee member Evanda Gravitte Moore – the daughter in-law of the late Grace Hooten Moore, the first female chair of the university’s board of trustees – was inducted as one of the newest members of the Brenau University Alumni Hall of Fame. “It’s quite an honor to be among so many other women who have been inducted in previous years, who have been role models for me, this community and Brenau,” Moore said.

Brenau Board of Trustee member Robin Smith Dudley, WC ’78, received the university’s Alumni Service Award for her 30-plus years teaching secondary and postsecondary health care science. “It’s always a pleasure to come back,” Dudley said, “and have all those nostalgic feelings resurface, all those great memories and experiences on campus while I was attending Brenau.”

Several alumnae gathered for ceremonies paying respects to deceased classmates. Alpha Gamma Delta members met outside Geiger Hall to dedicate a maple tree to Jessica Walker, WC ’03, who died Nov. 5, 2015, and Samantha Carson, WC ’11, who died Aug. 20, 2015, while Phi Mu sorority sisters dedicated a picnic table outside the Tea Room to the memory of Rae Brewer, WC ’94, who died Dec. 12., 2015.

Perhaps no one summed up the emotions of Alumnae Reunion Weekend better than Women’s College Dean Debra Dobkins, who described Brenau’s place as a “forever home” for its graduates.

“You have left your heart here,” she told alumnae during the yearly champagne brunch, “and it thrills us to see you come back and stay connected with us.”

 

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