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ETBU celebrates what is means to be “Tigers Forever” at 2018 Homecoming

October 29, 2018

East Texas Baptist University invited alumni from the College of Marshall (COM), East Texas Baptist College (ETBC), and East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) back to the Hill to celebrate past and present traditions during Homecoming weekend on Friday, October 26 through Saturday, October 27.

“For more than 100 years, the ETBU community has celebrated the tradition of Homecoming to remember and rejoice in how God has moved and continues to work through East Texas Baptist. God is alive and active on this campus, and we are grateful that He has called so many to carry out His vision for this institution,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said during the 2018 Homecoming chapel service. “The Golden Blazers, Alumni Award recipients, and Golden Lightkeepers exemplify the mission of ETBU by investing their lives and resources to enriching the experience at the University. It is our responsibility as current and former students, faculty, and staff to follow their legacy of leadership and service.”

Since the program’s inception in 2010, a total of 85 members have been presented with ETBU’s traditional Golden Blazers as a symbol of leadership, spiritual authority, and God’s blessing. These ambassadors have provided $10,000 of financial support and countless volunteer hours to their alma mater. The 2018 Golden Blazers are Dr. Hollie Atkinson (’59), Vince and Susan (Brooks) Blankenship (’85, ’85), Dr. Brian and Paula (Matkin) Nichols (’73, ’72), Martha “Marty” (Hedgecock) Rich (’63), Dr. Will and Ruthie (Meeks) Walker (’03, ’02), and Don Anthis (’67).

“We award alumni to honor individuals, who demonstrate excellence in their professional callings,” ETBU Vice President for Advancement Scott Bryant said. “Our current students are enabled to learn from their example to serve God and their community. ETBU alumni are serving and making a significant impact in a wide variety of careers all over the world, fulfilling the Great Commission. The institution is proud of the way our alumni represent the University.”

The Homecoming chapel service also announced the winners of the 2018 Alumni Awards. Dr. Annemarie Whaley (’86) received the J. Wesley Smith Achievement Award, Dr. Charles and Mrs. Joann Whiteside the W.T. Tardy Service Award, Scott Surratt (’90) the Alumni Achievement Award, Ruth Rhodes (’73) the Unsung Hero Award, Todd Kaunitz (’03) the Young Alumnus Award, Dr. Jim Webb the Blue and Gold Award.

“ETBU has shaped me in three major ways: educationally, relationally, and spiritually,” Kaunitz shared. “During my time at the University, I fell in love with the study and preaching of God’s Word through professors such as Bob Utley and Donald Potts. The quality of teaching is second to none. I cannot imagine my life without the friendships established here. I surrendered my life to ministry in this chapel, and it changed me forever. This institution has impacted me in more ways than I can describe, and I would not be where I am today without its influence. I could not be more proud to be an alumnus.”

Alumnus Dr. William Everett (’57) received the Golden Lightkeeper Award. The award is bestowed upon alumni who graduated 50 years ago or more and demonstrate continuing achievement in their vocation, church, and community. Dr. Everett was presented with a crystal commemorative award to honor his support and exemplification of the mission of ETBU. In addition, nineteen members of the Class of 1968 were recognized.

“Whenever ETBU crosses my mind, I am blessing and praising God,” Dr. Everett said. “I thank Him for our ETBU leadership and the progress that is being accomplished here. It is a blessing to see and be a part of the heritage of one of the best Christian universities in this world. Thank God for it, all praises be to it, and I thank the Lord for the privilege of receiving such an honor. From the depth of my heart, I thank you. May the Lord continue to keep his richest benediction, leadership, guidance, and constant care upon East Texas Baptist, that it may be a light that shines brightly and continues to bring many to Jesus and train many for Christian service.”

The Christian community shared at ETBU was strengthened through activities such as the Perkins Family and Friends Reunion Concert, Tiger Pep Rally and Fireworks, Tiger Family Carnival and Tailgating, Decade Reunions, and the Tiger Football game. The 2018 Homecoming Court was announced during the halftime festivities at Ornelas Stadium on Saturday. The court included Freshman Duke and Duchess, Josh Reed and Abigail Bath; Sophomore Duke and Duchess, Dave Hendrix and Emily Jones; Junior Duke and Duchess, Landin Brown and Morgan Arst; and Senior Duke and Duchess, Zach Pollard and Gloria Ambrose. ETBU seniors Collin Perkins and Caroline Lowe were named 2018 ETBU Homecoming King and Queen.

“It means a lot to me to be crowned. I hope that I have made an impact here for the glory of the Lord,” Perkins said. “At ETBU, I learned the importance of the Word of God and realized His plan for my life. My family was given the opportunity to perform a concert for ETBU’s Homecoming. As many of my family members are alumni, the experience was a blessing. For us, being Tigers means to be dedicated followers of Christ and to always be growing academically and spiritually. ETBU will challenge you in your faith, encourage you to learn to depend on God, and provide relationships with professors and friends that genuinely care about you.”

The King and Queen were nominated for their representations of a Christian leader, scholar, and servant. Perkins is majoring in Music and Worship in Ministry and serves as the Music Minister at Central Baptist Church in Carthage. He is the drum major for the marching band, a Jazz Band member, sings in the Concert Choir, and volunteers with Perkins Partnership Ministries. Lowe is a Mass Communication major, President for Student Foundation, a Leadership Fellows member, and a Mentor in Centennial Hall. As a member of Crossroads Baptist Church in Marshall, she leads a small group with the youth. Lowe also volunteers at the Marshall Food Pantry.

“I am honored to represent ETBU as the 2018 Homecoming Queen,” Lowe shared. “The institution is truly Christ-centered, and I love this school. I have grown spiritually and been pushed out of my comfort zone. ETBU has helped me to develop into who I am. As I interacted with alumni this weekend, it has been special to hear their stories. I have learned that to be a Tiger means to be focused on the Lord, supporting and encouraging one another to be centered on Him. At ETBU, we live out the Biblical model of community.”