Dozens of ‘ambassadors’ help greet Bowie State students who returned to class after shooting

Students at Bowie State University were back in the classroom Monday, nine days after a shooting marred homecoming weekend.

Students at Bowie State University were back in the classroom Monday, nine days after a shooting marred homecoming weekend, prompting the Maryland school to increase security around campus.

While police said they don’t believe anyone involved in the shooting had any association with the school, students were given last Monday off school, before leaders proceeded to cancel classes for the whole week as they coped with the fallout of the shooting that left two 19-year-olds injured.

Dozens of alumni came to the school and positioned themselves inside buildings to greet students with smiles and cheers as they returned Monday morning.

Valerie Hough-Cromartie, class of ’97, said she wanted to support students after the shooting that happened over homecoming weekend. (WTOP/John Domen)

“I wanted them to feel that there was a sense of comfort among the alumni,” said Valerie Hough-Cromartie, a 1997 graduate of Bowie State. “Let them know that we’re here for them and that we support them and to let them know that they are not alone on whatever the emotions that they’re feeling are.

“I wish I had my pompom because I usually would have something to kind of just cheer them up a little bit,” she added. “But I just wanted to have a smiley face and greet all the students as they come through and say, ‘Hey, bulldogs, how are you? Good morning,’ and just let them know that we are one big family and that we’re BSU for life.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Deborah Scott-McFarland, who graduated from Bowie State in 1969.

“I’m dressed in black and gold, that’s going to show the love to them,” she said, energetically. “I have this, this wonderful spirit, I love to hug and smile, embrace. And I wanted to exude that persona so that they realize that we’re people that they can trust.”

Jacqueline McGlen, Deborah Scott-McFarland and Estelle Johnson are among the alumni who welcomed students back to their classes on Oct. 16, 2023, following a shooting on campus. (WTOP/John Domen)

Scott-McFarland was on campus the night of the shooting, and had left an event that happened near the location of the shooting about an hour before it happened.

At the time of the shooting, which happened in front of a building near the entrance to the school, most students participating in homecoming activities were on the other side of campus. She expressed relief that most students weren’t anywhere near where it happened.

“We love our students, we love our community,” she said. “I am thrilled to be of service to this campus.”

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