The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is kicking off its Homecoming Week while continuing to celebrate its 125th anniversary with the theme “Ragin’ Cajuns Cheer for 125 Years.”

In the lead-up to the Homecoming football game against the Georgia State Panthers on Oct. 21, the university is putting on a variety of events and festivities for the UL Lafayette and local community.

One of the most prominent events this year is the Homecoming Parade which, tying into the university’s 125th anniversary, will be honoring past members of the Homecoming Court by inviting them to return as the parade’s Grand Marshals. The parade begins at 3:00 p.m. on Oct. 21, starting from Blackham Coliseum and making its way to the Alumni Tailgating Area.

Depending on the response from past Homecoming Court members, a social or reception may be held for them during the week, and the university has shown interest in possibly including them in future Homecoming events.

Alumni are further encouraged to return to campus with a networking reception on Oct. 19. This is a first for the university, and its Alumni Chapters are partnering with each college and their respective deans to host these receptions.

This year’s Homecoming King and Queen are Jack Smith and Faryal Atif.

Smith, a senior majoring in chemistry, has been involved in many organizations throughout campus, including Student Orientation Staff, the Speech and Debate Team, Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, Student Government Association and Presidential Student Ambassadors.

Smith shared that, growing up in Lafayette, he’s spent much of his life on the university’s campus.

“I’ve been here my entire life, both in Lafayette and on UL’s campus. I was on campus a lot growing up when my dad worked here, and since coming to UL later on in life as a student, I’ve had the opportunity to create my own college experience here,” Smith said. “Since coming to campus, I’ve truly gotten to experience all what makes UL special, whether it be the student community, the faculty and staff, or even the campus itself.”

Smith said how connected he feels to the campus, and that being crowned Homecoming King has been a great honor.

“I’ve developed an extreme love for this campus, so to be selected to represent the University that’s not only given me so much, but become a second home to me, as its Homecoming King for its 125th year anniversary means the world to me! I couldn’t be more honored and excited to have this title!” Smith said.

Atif is a graduate student pursuing her MA in English and the president of the International Student Council as well as vice president and advocacy chair of the Graduate Student Organization and president of UL Leading Life, among many other positions in various organizations

Atif also spoke earlier this semester at the Hilliard Art Museum as part of the Antiracist Education Series, giving a talk that focused on her experience as an immigrant and a member of Lafayette’s Muslim community, and the importance of inclusivity especially in education.

Atif stated that being selected as Homecoming Queen is a great honor and opportunity for her to represent the university.

“Our university boasts a wonderfully diverse student body, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to represent my fellow graduate students as well as our vibrant international and non-traditional students as a member of the Homecoming Court,” Atif said.

She reflected that it’s even more significant and meaningful to her that she was crowned on the university’s 125th anniversary.

UL Lafayette’s student body can expect many of the events they’re used to for this Homecoming Week.

Starting the week is the Paint Your Pride Window Painting on Oct. 15, where organizations can take part in painting the windows of the Student Union from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The next day, Oct. 16, is a cupcake giveaway on the Union Porch starting at 11 a.m., followed by the Food Truck Round-Up at 4 p.m. at the Alumni Center with live music from the band Three Thirty Seven. The day concludes with the Homecoming Fashion Show, being held in Blackham Coliseum with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.

On Oct. 17, students living on-campus can join in on UL Lafayette’s annual Paint the Town Red contest with Paint the Res Halls Red.

On Oct. 18,  Wear Red, Get Fed and the Campus Cupboard Food Drive will take place at the Student Union. The Campus Cupboard is accepting anything but canned foods (save for canned chicken, tuna, fruit and pasta), and prefers that items are individually packaged or sized to limit the amount of waste and benefit as many students as possible. Afterwards, starting at 6:00 p.m. is the Cajuns Got Talent show at Blackham Coliseum.

Oct. 19 sees the Yell Like Hell Pep Rally, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Blackham Coliseum and followed immediately afterwards by the Aux Cord Wars Live music event. A tennis and golf tournament are being held on Oct. 20, along with the NPHC Step Show at Blackham Coliseum at 7 p.m.

Homecoming Week closes on Oct. 21 with the Homecoming Parade, tailgating and the game against Georgia State. A full list of events, locations and times is available on the university’s website.