When Chance Wilson and Crystal Wilson (Halstead) first met, they were freshmen at University of Idaho and were meeting up with a group of friends to go to a football game.
Now, over 20 years later, they live in Boise with their three children, and have a tradition of attending homecoming as a family each year.
“We”ve made it a goal to go to homecoming,” Crystal said. “It”s been a great experience for our family, our children love seeing where we lived and hearing about how we met, where we took our classes, and we”ve also been trying to expose them to life after high school.”
Crystal has three degrees from the university and visits Moscow once or twice a year professionally.
“For me, Moscow feels like another home,” Crystal said. “When I go there I just feel at peace.”
She said she”s been especially impressed with the students on campus being respectful and friendly around her young kids, who were ages 3, 5 and 7 when they started going to homecoming each year.
“When we go to homecoming, we like to walk around campus and visit all of the places we used to go to,” Chance said. “There”s such a great campus life that I think some other colleges don”t get.”
The couple said it”s refreshing to come to north Idaho from Boise because they don”t get as much grief for wearing Vandal gear. Instead, they notice an instant connection with fellow Vandals and get high fives and various enthusiastic chants.
Vandal alumnus Eric Turner visited Moscow for homecoming in 2015 and was reminded of that same instant connection.
“It”s extremely non-verbal,” he said. “It”s a feeling you get – words cannot describe it – that”s Vandal Pride.”
When he chose to go to UI, it was simply because he wanted to get out of the Treasure Valley without leaving the state.
“Then once I got to Moscow, my eyes were opened,” Turner said. “I”m so glad I decided to go there because it”s the most beautiful campus in the nation.”
Since graduating from the School of Journalism and Mass Media in 2008, Turner has worked through the obstacles and now runs his own business, which specializes in videography and visual storytelling at weddings.
“If you can find a job that you really love doing, you”ll never work a day in your life, and that was my goal from the day I graduated,” Turner said.
He said several of his upper-level professors, specifically UI journalism professor Denise Bennett, helped him realize his true potential and figure out the educational path for his goals.
“I knew that I needed to push myself if I wanted to get to where I needed to go, but I was kind of stuck,” Turner said.
He said initially, he went to Boise State University, but left because he didn”t like it and took a year and a half off to sort through his thoughts.
“As soon as I got to Moscow, everything was put into place,” he said. “I could see where I was supposed to be and Moscow was a key component.”
He said his visit last fall was extremely nostalgic, and it felt great for him to be back.
“I was so happy I went back up there because all the traditions were continuing and still strong, so it made me feel like I was coming home,” Turner said.
UI alumnus Pohley Richey lives in Boise with her Vandal husband and two children, and often visits friends in the Moscow area.
“The campus is beautiful,” Richey said. “It is what a quintessential university looks like – old brick buildings, beautiful tall trees, seamlessly intermixed with tasteful new buildings and the newest technology and amenities for students.”
Richey was an ambassador for the College of Agriculture during her time as a student, which she said helped her overcome her fear of public speaking, learn more about the university and her college, and helped shape what she wanted to become in her career.
Richey”s advice to graduating students is to remember how important networking is, and that the connections made during and after college can be a tremendous help to students.
“Vandal pride is real,” Richey said. “Living in the Treasure Valley, I think it is even more prevalent here when you meet a fellow Vandal. I have always gotten a very warm reception when I identified as a fellow Vandal.”