Islander Alumni Share Memories at Homecoming 2020

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – From Tarpons to Islanders, each alumnus is a line in the storied past of our University’s history. Since 1947, the Island University has undergone multiple name changes, mascot changes, and a major reconstruction following the wrath of Hurricane Celia.

Through all these changes, generations of Islanders have come and gone with each alumnus holding one sentiment true – the Island is home. This year, as in years past, alumni far and wide made the trip back to their beloved Island and alma mater for Homecoming 2020, to recount the days of university life and traditions.

As a member of the class of 1970, a time when the campus was known as University of Corpus Christi (UCC), alumnus Terry Burrowes made the journey from New Jersey to Corpus Christi to celebrate the approaching 50-year anniversary of his graduation. Burrowes is retired after being an international educator, Head of School, Spanish educator, and educational administrator. He also operated his own theatre company for more than 10 years after falling in love with the stage while attending UCC.

“I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Theatre, and it was through this University that I got the opportunity to be on stage and audition for a play at the Little Theatre – now the Harbor Playhouse,” Burrowes said. “My professor, Dr. Wilson, encouraged me to audition there and because of that experience, when I graduated UCC, I went on to start my own theatre company, Clinton Hill Repertory Company in Brooklyn, New York City!”

At Homecoming 2020, Burrowes recounted his years at UCC with his involvement in the social fraternity, Kappa Sigma Kappa, and the UCC Cheerleading Squad.

“UCC exposed me to new opportunities. It was here that I ran the language lab where we taught students Spanish. Technology was just starting and there were no computers back then,” Burrowes recalled. “Also, I was a deejay on our University’s radio station, KUCC. The station was only heard on campus, but it was special for us. As captain of our cheerleading squad, we cheered for our basketball team, which included the legendary Roy Ford, all the way to the championship in Kansas City.”

Unlike generations of students before his class, Burrows and the class of 1970 were unable to ‘walk’ the stage for graduation, as Hurricane Celia ravaged the Corpus Christi community on August 3, 1970, destroying much of Ward Island in its wake. According to University archives, the storm left behind more than $1 million in damage to the Island campus.

“As a young man, I had worked so hard and was ready to graduate, my family was ready to see me walk that stage, had made plans to travel and were so excited,” Burrowes said. “But then we had a hurricane, so it was canceled – they never got to see their son graduate. So now being here, seeing how this University has grown, it feels like such an honor.”

Making a shorter, yet just as meaningful trip back to A&M-Corpus Christi for Homecoming 2020, was two-time alumna Lauren Young ’05, ’07.

“Since I was kid, I dreamed of studying marine biology, and when my mom and I visited the campus I fell in love so much I decided to get both of my biology degrees here,” Young said. “I’m a little envious but extremely happy to see how the Island University has continued to grow and expand since my time here.”

Now living in Austin, Young shared her excitement of spreading “Islander Forever” spirit as president of the Austin Islander Alumni Association chapter.

“As one of my newest adventures as the president of the Austin chapter, it’s been great to bring some blue and green to a city that’s completely ‘burnt orange’,” Young said. “It was exciting to be here and cross paths with people from different classes and different majors that I otherwise might not have met. It was my first time coming to Homecoming as a part of the extended alumni family.”

Throughout the weekend of Homecoming 2020, both Burrowes and Young attended numerous alumni events from a brunch and campus tour, to the popular Alumni and Friends Tailgate. Sparking a new alumni tradition, graduates of the class of ’95 and UCC graduates from classes ’48-’73, were invited to attend an inaugural Class Reunion Luncheon held in downtown Corpus Christi.

“Looking around I got emotional – my eyes teared up – because I’m seeing people that I hadn’t seen for a long time,” Burrowes said. “I realize as I talk with old friends, there are a number of us who are no longer with us, and that makes an event like this that much more important. It makes me feel honored to share my stories – to show these young people how the Tarpons started it all.”

Reflecting the same alumni pride, Young expressed the importance of celebrating as one big Islander family.

“When I look at this Homecoming celebration, and I see not just students and alumni, but community members too, coming out to support the University, it is amazing,” Young said. “This visit for me was more than just Homecoming. It was a family reunion and I’m already looking forward to next year.”