October 22, 2022
Alumni from East Texas Baptist University celebrated Homecoming 2022, Friday, October 21, through Saturday, October 22. This year's Homecoming festivities coincided with the University's 110th anniversary, marked by the annual Founders Day, which recognizes the institution's charter on October 22, 1912.
"We have been celebrating Homecoming festivities all week with our students, and we are elated to welcome our alumni, special guests and friends of East Texas Baptist to celebrate this special time in the life of the University," ETBU President Dr. J Blair Blackburn said. "The alumni from ETBU and East Texas Baptist College (ETBC) here with us this weekend were dedicated to their studies, they completed their degrees and went on to serve in their callings, and now they return back here to celebrate what God did in their life on this Hill. Thank you, alumni, for your faithfulness. Thank you for sharing with us the legacy of God's faith in you with these future generations of Tiger graduates."
During a special Homecoming chapel service, the 2022 Golden Blazers, Alumni Award recipients, Golden Lightkeeper recipient, and the class of 1972 were recognized. Since the program's inception in 2010, a total of 99 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 generous financial support and countless volunteer hours to ETBU. The 2022 Golden Blazers are Linda Cliett ('62), Lorre Kauffman ('89), Stacy Kauffman ('89), and Sergio Ramos ('93). Winners of the 2022 Alumni Awards included Bob Metcalf ('75) for the J. Wesley Smith Achievement Award, Jerry and Judy Cargill were honored with the W.T. Tardy Service Award, Janice Hearn ('89) was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award, Justin Hayes ('00) was honored with the Unsung Hero Award, and Dr. Leah Chiles Grant ('05) accepted the Young Alumnus Award.
"Attending this University shaped me in some remarkable ways," Metcalf said. "What I learned in this place and in Scripture is that we all need grace. We all need the grade of people to come alongside us in ministry. That began here for me and has been a mark of a ministry that I hope is extended around the globe in multiplying churches and multiplying Christians."
Alumnus Irene (Brown) Sisk ('48) 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. Through her gift to ETBU, the Sisk Health Services Clinic at ETBU was established in her honor and in memory of her husband. In addition, she designated funds for an endowed scholarship at ETBU for students pursuing a career in medicine. Irene Sisk's daughter, Suzanne Melhart, was presented with a commemorative award on her behalf to honor her support and exemplification of the mission of ETBU. Nine members of the Class of 1972 were recognized at the Golden Lightkeeper Luncheon following chapel.
"ETBU is a special place, and I am so happy to be here today," Melhart said. "My parents met here at ETBC in the mid-1940s. They fell in love with each other but most importantly, they fell in love with Jesus. ETBU shaped their futures, the career path they would take, the spouse they would become, and the parent they would become. On behalf of my family and my mom, I just want to thank you all so much for what ETBU has meant to our family and for bestowing this distinguished honor upon my mother."
Throughout the two-day celebration, the Tiger Family enjoyed activities such as a Jazz Band concert, Tiger Pep Rally and Fireworks, Late Night Breakfast, Decade Reunions, Tiger Family Carnival and Tailgate, and several Tiger athletic events.
"Being back on campus with my daughter and getting to walk the path where my wife and I met has been awesome," ETBU alumnus Nathan Mills ('18) from Garland, Texas, said. "Attending ETBU had a huge impact on my life. I met my wife here, received my degree, and I met a ton of great lifelong friends here. It really pointed me in the right direction spiritually, academically, and relationally."
The 2022 Homecoming Court was announced during halftime of the football game against Austin College. The court included Freshman Duke and Duchess, Alec King and Graycee Mosley; Sophomore Duke and Duchess, Randall Searls and Priscila Ramos; Junior Duke and Duchess, Carson Loos and Anna Osborne; and Senior Duke and Duchess, Landry Pedroza and Olivia Simmons. ETBU seniors RJ Miller and Abby Jones were named 2022 ETBU Homecoming King and Queen.
"It is such a blessing to be crowned Homecoming King," RJ Miller reflected. "For students to vote for me shows how good the Lord is and how much He has blessed me. The community the Lord has surrounded me with here has been so important to me. Whenever I leave the Hill, I want to continue that wherever I go because community takes you such a long way. I want to encourage people not to be afraid to put themselves out there. Be bold. The Lord has given us so much strength and the confidence to be bold in our faith. Don't be afraid to meet people. People here are so welcoming, so just put yourself out there. It will take you so far."
The King and Queen were nominated for their representations of a Christian leader, scholar, and servant. Miller is a senior kinesiology wellness-management major from Shreveport, Louisiana. He is a member of the Tiger Track team, where he was ETBU's first All-American in Track and Field in 2022. He has represented the University at the NCAA Leadership Forum and was chosen for the NCAA Division III Student Immersion Program. He is an active member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and served as a Resident Assistant. Jones is a senior worship studies major from Van, Texas. Throughout her time at ETBU, she has served as Chapel Band Coordinator, Lampsato worship band Leader, Chapel band leader, Guitar ensemble, Tiger Camp leader, FCA worship, Leadership Fellows, Summer Chapel music coordinator, "First Sunday" worship night coordinator and as a Thrive mentor.
"The Lord has really shown me such a sweet community here at ETBU, so I am glad that I get to take that with me when I graduate," Abby Jones shared. "I have made lifelong friends for sure. To know that the student body voted for me makes me feel very special and very loved. I am already loved enough by my Savior, but to know that I get to walk with these people daily and the relationships that are built is really cool to see. The community that I've found here has been the most impactful part of being a student at ETBU."