"I feel very proud that I can return to Northwestern to attend my reunion and help plan the entire weekend," says Carlos Terrazas (WCAS98), a Chicago-based broker and sales executive who is serving as co-chair of his class of 1998 reunion committee.
Terrazas is one of an estimated 3,000 reunion-year alumni who will return to campus for Reunion Weekend, Oct. 17–19, to participate in class parties, the Reunion Tailgate, the Homecoming football game and other activities. He and three other 1998 graduates head the reunion committee of more than 45 members whose mission is to encourage participation in the weekend.
"For me it's about connecting classmates with one another," says Terrazas, who also served on his class reunion committee five years ago. "At Northwestern I met an amazing group of well-rounded, intelligent and fascinating people. Now, after 10 years, my friendships are stronger than ever."
Ted Koutlas (WCAS83), a professor and director of pediatric surgery at East Carolina University, fondly recalls returning to campus for his 10-year reunion in 1993. This year marks the 25th since Koutlas graduated, but he will not return to join the class of 1983 for Reunion Weekend. In October, Koutlas, a lieutenant colonel and four-year U.S. Army Reserve volunteer, will leave the country to serve in Iraq.
Koutlas' presence, however, will still be felt on campus. He made a financial contribution toward the class gift, to be officially presented to the University during the Homecoming football game against Purdue University on Saturday, Oct. 18.
"Even though I cannot be there, Northwestern is an important part of my life," he says. "The University helped me become the person I am. I owe Northwestern a great deal for that."
Terrazas echoes that feeling of indebtedness, explaining that while the weekend may be about connecting with friends, his motivation to get involved ultimately evolves from his gratitude to the University and to those who came before him.
"I would have never had the opportunities I've had without the donors who made it possible for me to receive scholarships and financial assistance," says Terrazas. "I want future generations to have the same opportunities, so it makes sense for me to participate in any way I can."
Of course Terrazas can't help trumpeting the special feelings he has for his class in particular. "We were a Rose Bowl class," he says, "so there's a lot of enthusiasm not to miss reminiscing about that."
Koutlas also keeps close ties with his classmates, especially his Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers. Last year, while serving as chief of surgery of the 399th Combat Support Hospital in Tikrit, Iraq, he received word that one of his fraternity brothers had passed away. Though tragic, Koutlas says the sad occasion helped him rekindle connections.
"I e-mailed my brothers and told them where I was. That generated a lot of contact and support," he recalls. "I'm sure at our reunion this year they will gather to pay tribute to those who, like me, are unable to be there and to those brothers who are no longer with us."
Moments like those, Terrazas notes, represent the essence of Reunion Weekend. "Every class has its own milestones and memories. That's what makes it so special."
To find out how to participate in Reunion Weekend 2008 or future reunions by registering, volunteering or making a gift, go to http://www.alumni.northwestern.edu/reunions/fall2008.