As summer winds down and the sunsets in Morgantown once again paint the sky in golden yellows, pinks and purples, letting us know that fall is not far away, a familiar buzz of excitement envelops our campus once again. The time-honored tradition of college students returning to campus has arrived, and with it comes a palpable energy. The smiles on the faces of students walking across the Downtown Campus to class, the earnest conversations that flow in the Evansdale Crossing, and the reunion of friends on the Mountainlair green are the sights and sounds that make this time of year very special. For us alumni, the return of students is a poignant reminder of our own journeys as college students. We see ourselves in their excitement, aspirations, and wonder. It's heartening to witness their curiosity, as they carry forward the traditions that have been passed on by others, and for those of us on campus and beyond, it is a season filled with opportunities to share the experiences that define all of us as Mountaineers.
One of the best introductions for our new students to some of our favorite traditions is through Monday Night Lights, an event that began in 2015. Held annually at Milan Puskar Stadium during Welcome Week, it has become a symbolic moment of transition into the WVU community. The event brings out special guests that share their passion for WVU, and includes appearances by the Mountaineer Mascot, Pride of West Virginia, and the WVU Cheer team to kickoff the Mountaineer journeys of the newest members of our campus community. I’m sure you remember the first time you heard “Let’s Go”, followed by someone responding “Mountaineers,” watched the Pride of West Virginia’s pre-game performance, sang Country Roads locked arm in arm swaying with others, or joined in the call of first down at the stadium. It’s a special moment to witness when others experience these traditions for the first time themselves. To cap off the evening, first-year students make their way onto the field to participate in one of our newer traditions, taking a class picture inside the Marching Band’s outline of the State of West Virginia, forever memorializing their initial days as Mountaineers.