Homecoming Transformation

Honors College student helps steer Mizzou’s tradition during unprecedented times

Rebecca Shyu portrait
Junior Rebecca Shyu, a computer science major from Columbia, serves as one of three tri-directors for this year’s Homecoming celebration.

Like many students, Honors College junior Rebecca Shyu did not expect 2020 to be so complicated. A computer science major from Columbia, Shyu has always been a campus leader. She’s involved with several organizations, including the Society for Women Engineers, College of Engineering Ambassadors, Alpha Omega Epsilon women’s engineering sorority and Undergraduate Research Ambassadors. In the Honors College, she was a Discovery Fellow and Honors College Ambassador.

Shyu has shared perhaps her largest task yet with roughly 30 other members of the Mizzou community: creating a virtual and socially distant Homecoming celebration. As a tri-director, she is leading the effort in creating a new and memorable experience for past, present and future Tigers.

Shyu joined the Homecoming steering committee in 2019 as a blood drive committee member, which led to her continued participation in planning MU’s most coveted celebration in 2020.

Portrait of Homecoming tri-directors with MU's Columns in the background
Shyu with her fellow tri-directors, Macyn McClurg and John Yeager.

Her work on the Mizzou blood drive — the largest student-run blood drive in the nation — even inspired her own personal development. Shyu currently serves as a junior board member and philanthropy chair of the Central and Northern Missouri chapter of the Red Cross, providing a young-person’s perspective on fundraising efforts.

After completing her work on the 2019 celebration, Shyu was selected as a 2020 tri-director. Because early planning began in the spring at the beginning of the pandemic, Shyu says it was difficult to commit to event specifics.

Rebecca Shyu portrait
Shyu has worked toward creating a virtual and socially-distanced Homecoming experience this year after serving on the blood committee for last year’s celebration.

“We couldn’t make final decisions because the Homecoming date was so far out,” Shyu says. “It was a challenging mindset trying be positive but at the same time realistic. Yes, we would love this experience to happen. It’s a timeless tradition, but we have to adjust to be safe.”

After months of planning, Shyu has assisted in transforming many of the traditional elements of the homecoming celebration into socially distanced or virtual events. The Homecoming royalty interview process was moved online, and the Tiger Food Fight canned food drive was transformed into a limited-contact event. In addition, Shyu says the committee is encouraging people to donate blood and cans in their respective communities. Unrelated to the committee’s planning, the Homecoming football game was tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12 due to a COVID outbreak on the Vanderbilt football team.

Despite the historic changes, Shyu says the virtual aspect adds some positive elements to the Homecoming spirit.

“I’m sure many more people would be able to participate because a lot of alumni cannot come back to Columbia for the parade or game or campus decorations,” Shyu says. “But this way, anyone can participate at home and send in their pictures, casting it across the nation.”

After being involved with Homecoming at least partially through each year of her time at MU, it has been one of Shyu’s most memorable experiences.

“I think I’ve really grown as a person and as a leader, and I’m really thankful for these opportunities,” Shyu says.