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River Hawk Pride Shines Through at Homecoming

Alumni Celebrate Where They’ve Been — and Where UML is Going

Homecoming guests eat caramel apples Photo by Tory Wesnofske
River Hawk Homecoming guests enjoy caramel-covered apples, one of the delicious treats available on Hawkey Way.

By Ed Brennen

Up and down Hawkey Way, alumni of every generation used the same word to describe the feeling of being back on campus for River Hawk Homecoming 2018.


“It’s awesome to see how far the university has come,” said business alum John Turner ’08, ’15, who enjoyed the family-friendly festivities with his wife, MBA grad Tara Turner ’11, and their young daughters, Margo and Claire. “It makes you proud.”

“It’s quite an accomplishment what this administration has done,” industrial management alum Edward “Skip” Kittredge ’67 said as he surveyed the scene from the alumni tent. “It’s been a wonderful transition here over the last 10 years. I’m very proud of the university.”

The Turner family poses on Hawkey Way Photo by Ed Brennen
Alumni Tara and John Turner hold their daughters, Margo and Claire, on Hawkey Way.

Homecoming weekend kicked off with a Celebration of Philanthropy, where a $5 million commitment from business alum Brian Rist ’77 helped push the university past its $125 million fundraising campaign goal — 18 months ahead of schedule.

That news, coupled with Oprah Winfrey’s upcoming visit to campus for the Chancellor’s Speaker Series to raise money for student scholarships, added to the good vibes during Saturday afternoon’s celebration outside the Tsongas Center. Even the weather got into the spirit; rain clouds parted for sunshine right on cue as guests enjoyed student musical performances, food (including a chili cook-off), carnival games, pony rides and, for the daring, a bungee trampoline.

“It’s a great time to be a River Hawk,” said Executive Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Heather Makrez ’06, ’08, who was thrilled to see “thousands of alumni, faculty, staff and families” taking part in reunions, athletic events and the annual Jennifer’s 5K Fun Run/Walk. “As we celebrate reaching our campaign goal two years early, Oprah coming to campus, and the largest and most diverse incoming class we have ever seen, it’s only fitting to have the best homecoming weekend at UMass Lowell.”

Here are a few snapshots from Hawkey Way:

“We’re the ‘postcard children’ for Homecoming”

John Cogan ’86 and Kevin Sullivan ’94 at Homecoming
John Cogan ’86 and Kevin Sullivan ’94
You may recognize them from their “selfie” photo at last year’s Homecoming, which was used to promote this year’s event. “We’re the ‘postcard children’ for Homecoming,” joked Cogan, a business management alum who works as a financial advisor in Dover, N.H. Cogan brought something special with him to campus this year: the championship trophy his team won the previous weekend by beating Sullivan’s team in the finals of the Coastal New England Baseball League, an over-30 men’s league where the two UML alumni met a decade ago. Sullivan, an exercise physiology alum who works as a recruiter in Plaistow, N.H., discovered the trophy in Cogan’s trunk when they arrived on campus. “He asked me to check his brake lights,” Sullivan said. “Then he popped the trunk to reveal the trophy. It was very thoughtful of him.” All kidding aside, the friends marveled at what’s become of their alma mater. “From when I was here in ’86 to what it is now, it’s night and day,” Cogan said. “I’m very proud to be an alum.” “It’s amazing,” agreed Sullivan, who frequently returns to recruit students at career fairs. “It’s become a destination.”

"I’ve seen the university grow a lot"

Michael Dellogono ’11, ’13, ’18 and Diana (Davis) Dellogono ’12
Michael Dellogono ’11, ’13, ’18 and Diana (Davis) Dellogono ’12
Married in June, the Dellogonos were attending their first Homecoming as River Hawk newlyweds. Diana, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English, works for Campus Recreation as the assistant director of fitness and wellness. Michael is a Triple River Hawk earned a bachelor’s in exercise physiology and a master’s and doctorate in biomedical engineering and biotechnology. “As I’ve gone through 11 years of school here, I’ve seen the university grow a lot,” said Michael, who works as a business development manager at Toxicon Corporation in Bedford. “Starting with Marty Meehan, and now with Jacquie Moloney, it’s been an incredible transformation.” Michael is also co-founder of Personal Adaptive Training, a fitness app company. He credits the DifferenceMaker Program for teaching him the entrepreneurial skills needed to start his own business. “That was a huge help for starting a business and networking,” said Michael, who admitted that he was already starting to miss being a student. “Maybe I’ll get my MBA next. It’s way more fun here.”

"We’ve been able to ensure that student veterans can remain in school"

Edward “Skip” Kittredge ’67 at Homecoming
Edward “Skip” Kittredge ’67
Skip Kittredge is no stranger to the university since earning a degree in industrial management a half-century ago. In addition to volunteering with Alumni Relations, the U.S. Air Force veteran founded the General Pershing Fund for Student Veterans, which offers interest-free aid to student military members, veterans, ROTC cadets and dependents of injured service members. “It’s been very gratifying. We’ve been able to ensure that student veterans can remain in school and are not precluded by a financial emergency,” said Kittredge, who praised the work of Veterans Services and its “superstar” director, Janine Wert. Kittredge, who lives in Hampton, N.H., retired from a lifelong career in healthcare administration two years ago. His daughter, Kristen (Kittredge) Pemberton, is a Triple River Hawk who earned her doctorate in physical therapy in 1997 — “30 years to the day when I graduated,” Kittredge said proudly.

“I’m awestruck every year when I walk through this campus"

Tony Swierzbin and his wife, Ann, at Homecoming
Tony Swierzbin ’67, ’76 and wife, Ann
As longtime hockey season-ticket holders living in Chelmsford, Tony Swierzbin and his wife, Ann, cheered on the River Hawks as they won their season-opener against Rochester Institute of Technology, 2-1. “I’ve been involved with the hockey program going all the way back,” said Swierzbin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in systems engineering before joining the U.S. Air Force and being stationed at Hanscom Field in Bedford. Swierzbin, who helped start the hockey booster club when it played at the old Chelmsford Forum, remembers when hockey was a club sport that played on an outdoor rink on North Campus. He marvels at the team’s rise to Division I, its success under coach Norm Bazin and the exciting atmosphere at the Tsongas Center. “I think we’ve seen all those banners won,” said Swierzbin, who also takes advantage of cultural events around the campus and city with his wife. “I’m awestruck every year when I walk through this campus and see what’s going on.”