Family Weekend based in sentimentality and exploration

When students go away to school, often times their parents, siblings and other relatives miss them deeply. However, Family Weekend provides an opportunity for families to reconnect and see what Marquette and Milwaukee are all about.

Caitlin Weitzel, the coordinator for new student and family programs in the Office of Student Development, worked with staff members to produce an extensive itinerary of enjoyable activities and tours for families on and off campus.

“We want parents to fall in love with Milwaukee,” Weitzel said.

Milwaukee is a bustling city known for its highlights such as baseball, brewing, great views of Lake Michigan and a thriving history and community to explore.

Erick Herrera Hernandez, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and one of Weitzel’s staff members understands what Family Weekend is about.

“I know it really becomes a tradition for some families, and it’s strategically placed six weeks after the first day of class,” Herrera Hernandez said.

“The overarching goal of Family Weekend is to get parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and whomever they may be, back on campus to see their loved ones…even if they’re not doing what’s in the schedule,” Weitzel said.

The majority of Family Weekend guests are parents of first-year students. Weitzel emphasized how it is important to “get parents familiar with what their students’ lives are actually like…to know what they are and who they are at Marquette.”

Events include concerts, apartment tours, Greek life receptions and Family Fun Bingo.  Family Fun Bingo is a highly sought-after campus event to attend and Weitzel revealed that the prizes often exceed expectations.

“Imagine your dream shopping spree at the spirit shop,” Weitzel said.

This weekend is a time to enjoy the company of friends and family because there are so many things to do. It’s an invaluable opportunity to spend time with loved ones.

Family weekend activities are divided into three categories: explore Marquette, explore Milwaukee and on your own.

Explore Marquette is a category that provides campus-related programs, tours and events such as a viewing of “Finding Dory,” Zumba class, pumpkin and apple picking, Family Weekend Mass and Acatoberfest, a concert featuring the Meladies, Gold ‘n Blues, the Naturals and guest appearances from other collegiate a cappella groups from outside Milwaukee.

Explore Milwaukee allows people to explore downtown Milwaukee and see highlights of the city. Events include Milwaukee City Tours, Third Ward lunch tours and shuttles to the Third Ward and Public Market.

On your own is meant for families and students who don’t want to stick to a program schedule and just want to spend time with their student near campus. Recommended activities include trips to the Milwaukee County Zoo,  the Milwaukee Public Museum and countless dining options.

Grace Barada, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, looks forward to Family Weekend each year. Barada lives in California, so it is a special time when she can see her loved ones before the holidays.

“My two older sisters came up (last year) and it was fun to have a sister’s weekend together,” Barada said.

Last year, Grace and her sisters enjoyed apple picking at the Barthel Fruit Farm in Mequon, Wisconsin. She also went to Cafe Benelux and explored the Public Market and Third Ward.

Students can learn and discover what makes Milwaukee and Marquette truly unique and bond with their friends and anyone they call family throughout the weekend.

While a number of events are complimentary, there are other events that require purchased tickets ranging from $3-$55. Over 600 families purchased tickets last year.

Family Weekend may seem like it’s all about having fun on the surface, but this tradition has much more sentimentality attached to it.

“A couple years ago a mom came up to me and was in tears and said, ‘Thank you for allowing me to hear my daughter’s laugh again,'” Weitzel said.