As the Vegas Valley cools down, festivities heat up at UNLV when the school celebrates its annual homecoming every October. UNLV Rebel Homecoming is a weeklong celebration — culminating in a football game at Allegiant Stadium — that brings together UNLV’s main and Shadow Lane campuses, undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty from across all disciplines.
On Oct. 12, UNLV Health and the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV made a splash at the homecoming festival on main campus. This event gives all UNLV schools and departments the chance to design and operate a carnival booth and decorate a golf cart for the on-campus parade.
UNLV Health and the school of medicine drew an impressive line at their carnival booth that came with a trove of swag and a toy “claw” machine. In addition to face masks, fanny packs, notepads, and pens that volunteers passed out, festival-goers had the chance to win mini-footballs and white coat-wearing teddy bears from the booth’s claw machine.
These plush doctors, donning Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine coats, were “a hit among the crowd,” according to Lizabeth Kelso, booth volunteer and patient financial services supervisor at UNLV Health. “About 5 people asked me to pass along to those ordering for next year, ‘Can you order more bears?’” Kelso says. “They thought they were adorable.”
Beyond the prizes, making connections between departments and schools was another aspect of the festival that attendees cherished. With the UNLV Health and School of Medicine booth neighboring the other UNLV health science schools, volunteers were reminded they are connected to an expansive ecosystem of physicians, educators, and students.
“It was really nice to be able to see the different health-related departments there, to see that we’re a part of something much bigger,” Drew Moore, human resources manager at UNLV Health, says.
In addition to the booth, UNLV Health and the school of medicine decorated a golf cart — piloted by Dean Marc J. Kahn — for the homecoming parade. Students transformed the golf cart into an ambulance, complete with flashing lights.
One student who helped design this year’s float was first-year medical student, Stephanie Wang. After earning her business degree from UNLV, Wang decided to make a career change and pursue a medical degree, landing her back in Rebel territory at the school of medicine.
“Going back to main campus allows me to visit my roots in the business school,” Wang says. “I get to see things that they’re doing and visit other professors and mentors who had an impact on me.”
Cecilia Li, another first-year medical student who helped bring the school’s float to life, shares similar feelings about her time as a UNLV undergraduate.
“Going back to main campus brings back memories of being in the library and research buildings and thinking, ‘When am I going to get into medical school?’ And now I’m back and in medical school!” Li says.
The spirit of homecoming is not just about returning to an alma mater; it also allows new students a chance to strengthen connections within their new home.
Medical student Allen Zhang spent his first UNLV homecoming drawing the schematic for the school of medicine’s float, walking in the parade, and throwing out beads. Of the experience, Zhang says, “I felt like I was home.”
Below are some of the photos captured during the homecoming festival and parade. Check out our social media for more!