Legacy Family Lunch & Pinning Ceremony kicks off a new tradition

by | Feb 27, 2023

Saturday's event served as an opportunity to recognize and celebrate parents who are alumni and have children attending UMSL

Jessy Baldwin and her mother, Marisa Smith, captain of the UMSL Police Department, attended the inaugural Legacy Luncheon, celebrating alumni and their children who are attending UMSL. (Photo by Aaron Poelker)

Marisa Smith got teary-eyed as she placed the legacy pin on her daughter, Jessy, a freshman at the University of Missouri–St. Louis studying psychology.

For Smith, the captain of the UMSL Police Department and a university alumna, the moment during the inaugural Legacy Family Lunch & Pinning Ceremony brought back memories of Jessy as a little girl.

“It brought tears to my eyes because I’m thinking ‘Man, I remember my baby,’” Smith said. “I was actually pregnant with her while I was here. She’s my youngest.”

The event hosted by the Office of Alumni Engagement over homecoming weekend served as an opportunity to recognize and celebrate parents who are alumni and have children attending UMSL and gave them a chance to engage with others sharing a similar experience.

Man stands at podium speaking to attendees.

UMSL alumnus and CEO of Great Mines Health Center Gregory Roeback was the keynote speaker at the inaugural Legacy Luncheon event. (Photo by Wendy Todd)

Mary Bosnick, associate director of alumni engagement, felt the generational connections throughout UMSL should be highlighted in a meaningful way.

“We are hearing from our partners and student enrollment that there are students who are identifying that they have alumni family,” she said. “We think that’s exciting and something to celebrate and a great reason to invite those alumni back to campus. So when we were thinking about how we might want to do that, homecoming was a perfect time to start.”

Jennifer Jezek-Taussig, associate vice chancellor of alumni engagement and annual giving, agreed. She has often heard of students with family members who’ve attended UMSL. She welcomed all attendees and encouraged them to continue to engage with the network of nearly 115,000 UMSL alumni.

The tradition began in an intimate gathering on a sunny afternoon in the ED Collabitat on UMSL’s South Campus, with Gregory Roeback, CEO of Great Mines Health Center, as the keynote speaker. The executive and UMSL alumnus reminisced about feeling embraced by the university and getting unwavering support from his professors. One, he recounted, even promised the entire class an Egg McMuffin sandwich from McDonald’s if they got at least a B.

Roeback also referenced his son, Jack, who is a freshman at UMSL majoring in information systems with an emphasis in cybersecurity, and wished him a similarly supportive experience. He expressed the value he sees in Jack following in his educational footsteps.

“Like passing down a treasured heirloom,” Roeback said. “When you share your UMSL experience with the next generation – when you support them as they follow your path to an UMSL education – you are adding to our shared legacy.”

Roeback led the pinning portion of the event, directing parents to place the UMSL legacy pin on their children. It was a moment for simultaneously reflecting back and looking toward the future.

Lora Wallace-Lakes embraced her daughter, Rashonda Wallace, who is in her third year studying psychology. She recited: “We pin you a legacy. This pin signifies generations of UMSL family excellence. Today, you become an UMSL family legacy.”

Mother and daughter look at each other lovingly.

Psychology student Rashonda Wallace and her mother, alumna Lora Wallace-Lakes, share a tender moment during the pinning ceremony. (Photo by Wendy Todd)

Smith was moved by the sentiment of the Legacy Luncheon and hopes this new tradition is carried on.

“I thought it was a great event,” she said. “I hope they continue it because it’s a great opportunity to make contacts and mingle with other students here.”

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Wendy Todd

Wendy Todd

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