First in-person Beacon 5K to occur this Sunday

The Harborwalk passing through UMass Boston’s campus.

On Sunday, Oct. 3, UMass Boston’s Alumni Engagement is hosting their first in-person Beacon 5K. The event will be held on the Harborwalk as well as in a virtual capacity. All members of the campus community are invited.

The Beacon 5K will also feature post-race events on the Campus Center lawn, including music, lawn games, a boxed meal for those who participated in the race and, for those of age, a beer garden. 

Steve Whittemore, Director of Alumni Engagement in the University Advancement Office, described the post-race events as an “opportunity to connect with people after the run.”

Originally, Whittemore created the event as a virtual race in 2020 as a means to pivot programming for alumni and friends of the university from in-person to remote after the pandemic hit. 

The first Beacon 5K occurred one weekend in April of 2020; over 300 participants ran or walked the equivalent distance of a 5K. These participants were sent t-shirts and runners’ bibs, and were urged to post pictures on social media regarding the race, and to tag UMass Boston. The race occurred again virtually twice after this—once in the fall of 2020, and again in the spring of 2021.

“Now that we’re back on campus, we thought it would be really fun to bring it [the Beacon 5K] back to campus and to provide an opportunity for the UMB community to visit campus if they’re not living on campus or near campus,” said Whittemore.

Participants of the on-campus race can walk or run, and they will be given a runner's bib with a chip in it that will record their racetime and post it online. Three winners from both the female and the male divisions will be announced following the race.

The virtual aspect of this year’s Beacon 5K will work similarly to those in the past. Participants will once again be mailed a t-shirt and a runner's bib, and are urged to post photos relating to the race online. Virtual runners may run the race any time during the weekend of Oct. 1 through Oct. 3.

Jake Bohenko, President of the Young Alumni Council, expressed appreciation that the event will still contain a virtual component.

“The fact that there is still a virtual option is really cool,” said Bohenko, “that [way] our alumni across the country can participate if they’d like to—they don’t have to go to the UMass Boston campus just to do it.”  

Though anyone can participate in the 5K, the recommended donation is $25. Proceeds of the donations go towards either the Krystle Campbell Scholarship, or the Young Alumni Council Scholarship. 

The Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund was started in 2013. Krystle Campbell was a UMass Boston alumna who lost her life during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The scholarship was established by former UMass Boston Trustee Richard Campbell (no relation to Krystle) to honor Krystle’s memory, and Campbell has aided in the fund’s growth over the years. The fund now exceeds $1 million. 

English professor Paul Dyson—who helped to plan the 5K’s route and to gather volunteers—explained that the Krystle Campbell Scholarship is a $5,000 scholarship given to five College of Management students—as Krystle was a CM student—who have demonstrated exceptional merit and/or need. More than $14,000 was raised for the scholarship fund during the Spring 2021 Beacon 5K.

The Young Alumni Council Scholarship is given to two undergraduate students who exhibit dedicated service to their communities, as well as an exceptional academic record. 

Navasz Hansotia, one of last year’s winners of the scholarship, expressed how the scholarship has impacted her.

“I’m an immigrant [ . . . ] so I’ve been trying to get funding and scholarships, so it [the Young Alumni Council Scholarship] really helped me,” said Hansotia. “I could take summer courses to speed up my degree because of that.”

Noshin Omar, who won both the Krystle Campbell Scholarship and the Young Alumni Council Scholarship last year, commented via email on the impact of the scholarship to her.

“I’m an out-of-state student, so naturally tuition [and] class expenses are high, but financial aid has always been my hero to some point,” wrote Omar. “These scholarships mean a lot to my education and mental health because they lessen the stress of money to some degree, and propel me forward in achieving my goals as a student and someone meaningful in society.”

When asked how the Young Alumni Scholarship tied into the Beacon 5K, Omar wrote:

“I’d say the Young Alumni Scholarship and the Beacon 5K both come down to the same goal, which is to support students and future generations of UMass Boston in achieving their dreams, whatever they may be, but also serve as a reminder to give back when one is in the position to.”

As of Thursday, Sept. 23, roughly 220 people have registered for the race, though Whittemore anticipates a large uptick in registrations this week based on previous trends.

In order to register for the Beacon 5K, visit: https://www.umb.edu/news_events_media/events/beacon_5k 

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