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FSU Alumni Association unveils new catering and events service – Florida State University News

FSU Alumni Association unveils new catering and events service - Florida State University News
Traditions prepares their dishes using only fresh and high quality ingredients and take pride in their culinary artistry.
Traditions prepares their dishes using only fresh and high quality ingredients and take pride in their culinary artistry.

The Florida State University Alumni Association recently celebrated the launch of Traditions Catering and Events at the FSU Alumni Center, a comprehensive catering service designed to create simple, stress-free experiences.

“The FSU Alumni Center is a unique space on FSU’s campus that is perfect for an array of social, formal and corporate events,” said Julie Decker, president and CEO of the FSU Alumni Association. “We are thrilled to partner with Traditions Catering and Events to offer full-service catering and event space for the entire Tallahassee community; we look forward to hosting alumni and friends.”

The FSU Alumni Center offers five indoor and outdoor event spaces, including the Grand Ballroom, the Pearl Tyner House, the Rendina Room, the Cottrell Conference Room and the Courtyard, which is located near the Pearl Tyner House and the courtyard garden.

In addition to designing custom menus for each special event, Traditions Catering and Events offers state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, amenities and gourmet cuisine with the freshest locally sourced ingredients.

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Dearborn Public Schools honors fallen alumni in Memorial Day events

Dearborn Public Schools honors fallen alumni in Memorial Day events

Since World War I, 347 men and women soldiers from Dearborn have given their lives in service and their names are inscribed on Dearborn’s War Memorial.

People stand on stage
Dignitaries stand on stage as the Fordson choir sings. (Bob Ankrapp – For MediaNews Group)

“We are here to honor Dearborn men and woman who gave their lives in service to our country,” Dearborn Public Schools Executive Director Adam Martin said during a May 25 service. “Throughout its history, the residents of Dearborn have answered a call to serve. Its sons and daughters have been sent away to far away conflicts never to return. These individuals had courage, they had pride, they loved their families and community. They were willing to risk their lives so that we could live in peace.”

Students at Fordson High School researched three of those soldiers, one from each of three different wars, and gave a presentation on them at the school’s ceremony.

Shaun Wilson, an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Marines, served as the keynote speaker of the event. He is a seasoned strategic communication, marketing and business management professional with more than 20 years of experience.

Lisa Lark, a former Dearborn Public School teacher and author of “All They Left Behind: Legacies of Men and Women of the Wall,” and “Gone Too Soon: Dearborn Remembers Its Fallen Heroes,” served as the event emcee.

American Legion Post No. 364 provided an honor guard.

Woman at podium
Lisa Lark speaks during the ceremony. (Dave Herndon – MediaNews Group)

The event, for the 10th straight year, was held in honor of Walter Kielb, a Marine private who was killed on June 22, 1944, during the battle of Saipan. He had a memorial erected in his honor, which was moved to Fordson High School in 2012.

School Board Trustee Hussein Berry and Korean War Veteran John Ruselowski spoke about Kielb, and why it was imporant to continue to honor him.

“To the thousands of men and women from Fordson High School, we acknowledge their heroism and express a sincere appreciation for the service and their sacrifices,” Berry said.

Years later, he said, the city dedicated Walter Kielb Park. Over the years, the park usage fell off and the memorial was damaged.

Ruselowski brought it to Berry’s attention and they worked together to move a giant rock to the Tractors football stadium and raise money for a new plaque that was dedicated in 2012.

Students stand in auditorium

Wilson called Memorial Day a “sacred occasion” that began when soldiers and newly freed slaves decorated the graves of Civil War soldiers.

“We have used this American Tradition to pay respect to those who didn’t come home,” he said. “They deserve our respect and to be honored.”

During his speech, Wilson used quotes from Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Martin Luthor King Jr., Calvin Coolidge and others.

Muhammad Ali Hahli presented on WWII soldier Gerard Antaillia. Xhiko Ahmeti presented on Korean War soldier Charled Dubas and Layan Sannan presented on  Vietnam War veteran Raymond Borowski, all of which didn’t make it home from their respective conflicts.

Man at podium
Hussein Berry talks during the program. (Dave Herndon – MediaNews Group)

Lark spoke near the end of the ceremony about her research into all of Dearborn’s fallen soldiers.

“They were just like you,” she said. “When you look, the city of Dearborn’s total of 347 names on the war memorial, their ages range from 18 to 32. They left behind mothers and fathers, and friends.”

When she first started researching, Lark said, she heard a story about Robert Benici, who had died nearly 50 years earlier.

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Alumni, reunion events return to U of G

Alumni, reunion events return to U of G

University to hold virtual events from June 20-23, in-person events from June 23-26




The largest annual event run by the University of Guelph’s Alumni Affairs and Development is back on campus. Alumni and Reunion Week will run virtually June 20-23 and in person June 24-26, 2022. 

The week encourages alumni to reminisce on their university experiences while reconnecting with classmates and building new skills through various activities.  

“Continuing with virtual sessions and returning to in-person Alumni Week to welcome grads back to campus is beyond exciting,” said Jason Moreton, assistant vice-president of alumni advancement. “We are incredibly grateful to our tremendous alumni volunteers who have, once again, stepped up to bring classmates together and keep the tradition of reunions thriving.” 

What to expect 

From June 20 to 23, virtual events for all grads will include a wide range of offerings, from a Thai-inspired cooking class to webinars on career growth and happiness. Throughout the week, AA&D will also interview alumni on Instagram Live. 

From June 24 to 26, most in-person events will focus on planned class reunions and the college celebrations. The events include campus tours, a craft beer social and the unveiling of a new exhibit at the Barker Veterinary Museum to mark the Ontario Veterinary College’s 100th anniversary. 

Classes of 2021 and 2022 may attend a grad gala of celebrations and ceremonies June 22-25. For those unable to attend during Alumni and Reunion Week, a ceremony will also be held Oct. 10. 

The 2022 U of G Alumni Award of Excellence winners will be announced on AA&D’s social media platforms on June 24. A gala honouring the winners will be held in October. 

All events during Alumni Week and Weekend require registration, and most are free. Register for a virtual event here.

Alumni and Reunion Week is sponsored by Manulife. The alumni craft beer social is sponsored by U of G’s College of Social and Applied Human Sciences Alumni Association.  

U of G’s COVID-19 protocols will be followed during Alumni and Reunion Week.


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Behind the pomp and circumstance

Behind the pomp and circumstance
Commencement ceremonies at the Colonial Life Arena

Meet some UofSC staff members who work behind the scenes on commencement day

Thousands of University of South Carolina students will walk across the stage this
weekend and join the ranks of Gamecock alumni.

But long before the ceremonies begin, a band of staff from around the university pull
together behind the scenes to make sure each commencement ceremony is a smooth one.
From hanging the banners, to making sure the sound is pitch perfect, to being sure
every graduate is in the right seat — it’s a massive undertaking by faculty and staff
from around the university.

Here is a look at just a few of them.

Andrew Fink: associate registrar for client services

Andrew Fink earned his master’s degree in education and has worked at the university
for 25 years – nine of those in the registrar’s office. During commencement, he serves
as the lead marshal for the pre-ceremony and ceremony at the Colonial Life Arena;
you’ll see him and other registrar staff members dressed in garnet robes, directing
graduates on the floor and helping friends and family in the audience.

Duties at commencement: “As the lead marshal, I direct all of our on-site commencement staff. That includes
11 ushers, two seat assignment staff members, someone to help with accessibility issues,
four who help students with academic regalia, and then people who staff program tables
in the lobby.”

The importance of the day: “We understand that this is a high-profile public event, so customer service and
ensuring a high-quality image is of utmost importance. Our staff understand that this
is a celebration and that the hard work of our students is what has gotten them there.”

What commencement means: “It symbolizes the culmination of many years of hard work, and it’s a time for students
and family and friends to recognize and celebrate success. And it’s just really a
lot of fun to see students come here to Carolina and work so hard, and then finally
get to walk across that stage and graduate.”

Sharing the workload: “It takes a lot of dedicated people to make this happen. There are many, many, many
people that work prior to commencement to put everything together. It’s a large team


Vinny Hourigan: CLA production manager

As production manager for Colonial Life Arena, Vinny Hourigan takes care of all the
theatrical aspects of commencement – meaning he’s responsible for making sure the
arena looks and sounds perfect for the thousands of grads marching across the stage
each December and May.

He also is responsible for the sound system, making sure everything comes through
loud and clear. Hourigan started at UofSC in 1999, working at the Carolina Coliseum
before CLA opened. “When I first came here, I didn’t understand the importance of
commencement,” he says. “I learned very quickly. It is truly the most important event
I do all year, and it feels that way going in. And if everything goes well, it feels
good on the way out.”

Getting set for the big event: “We hang 80-foot wide by 60-foot high heavy velour curtains. And once those are
hung, we put the two USC banners on the opposite sides of the (replica McKissick monument)
statue at center stage. We can usually do that in about an hour and 10 minutes. And
these days, most of the time, it’s at 4 o’clock in the morning.”

The view from the mixing booth: “It’s probably the best seat in the house. It’s unobstructed and I can see everything
that goes on.”

Crossing the finish line: “I’ve been telling people for a long time, if nobody notices me, I’ve done my job
well. It’s important to me that nothing is marred by feedback or inadequate volumes.
And, let’s face it, it’s the finish line for every student that has come here and
has paid tuition, it’s the finish line for the parents who are in the seats. So, the
less people notice me, the better I feel that I’ve done.”


Laveta Gibson, School of Music

Laveta Gibson doesn’t play an instrument or sing a note at commencement, but as executive
assistant to the dean at the School of Music, she makes sure the right notes get played
by the right people at the right time. And there’s a lot of coordination.

“The same faculty have pretty much done it for years, so they know that they’re going
to get an email from me saying, ‘I need a string quartet’ or whatever I need for each
ceremony,” she says.

Making the music: The music school’s voice faculty members select students who sing the national anthem,
preferably a student in the graduating class, while the string quartet, band and orchestra
also have roles in the various ceremonies.

A winning soundtrack: “I think it’s nice that the School of Music is represented everywhere at commencement.
I don’t think there is another school that’s really represented like that. Plus, you
remember the sounds from commencement. I mean, I remember people that sang at my commencement.”


David Cockfield: director of live production, USC Athletics

As director of live productions for the university’s athletics department, David Cockfield
produces SEC network broadcasts for sports including soccer, baseball and basketball.
During commencement, Cockfield sits in the control room 2 miles away at Williams-Brice
Stadium, making sure the thousands in the crowd at commencement ceremonies can see
photos, read facts about the university and watch the live video feed as they sit
in the Colonial Life Arena. He also is responsible for video boards for football,
basketball and baseball.

Moving to CLA from the Coliseum in 2002: “There was this nice video board they wanted to use, which means a control room and
cameras and people to make all of that happen.”

Why commencement matters: “When it’s sports, especially right now that we’re in baseball and softball season,
you get to play the next day. With commencement, you usually only walk across that
stage one time, so you would like to make sure that you get pictures of those people
walking across the stage. It’s important. It’s a memorable event. So you want to get
it right.”


Mark Smith: curator, McKissick Museum; keeper of the mace and medallion

Mark Smith is the curator for exhibition and collection management at McKissick Museum
on the Horseshoe. He’s also a product of the university, having earned a B.A., M.A.
and Master of Library and Information Science, which makes his role as keeper of the
university’s ceremonial mace and medallion that much more meaningful. “I’m an alumnus
myself,” he says, “so I think having the mace is a very interesting part of our university

About the mace: Along with the medallion, the mace was presented to the university in 1967, crafted
by a British silversmith. It’s nearly 4 feet long and features the seals of the United
States, the state of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina.

Mace and medallion at commencement: As part of the ceremony, the student government president carries the 15-pound mace
in the commencement procession. When it is placed on its stand on the commencement
platform, it signifies the ceremony is about to begin. The university president wears
the medallion around his neck at commencement.

Keeping up with the mace: “We keep it polished, get it repaired, whatever is needed. It is in the case and
secured on our first floor (at McKissick), so people can take a look when they walk
through. For commencement, the police sign it out, we inspect it, and they deliver
it to commencement. Everyone has to have on white gloves when they touch it; we don’t
want fingerprints on it because it is silver with some gold. When commencement is
over the police bring it all back and we put it back on display.”

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Future Alumni Week

The UofSC Alumni Association will host Future Alumni Week, March 21-25, to welcome
future alumni into the UofSC Alumni family. The week will include a variety of events

  • Sunrise Yoga on Monday (March 21)
  • Finding Community After College on Tuesday (March 22)
  • Personal Finances for Young Professionals on Wednesday (March 23)
  • Headshots on the Horseshoe on Thursday (March 24)
  • Stay Engaged with UofSC Through Your Alumni Association on Friday (March 25)

Future Alumni events are open to all 2022 graduates, current UofSC students and recent
UofSC graduates. Space is limited for many events so RSVP as soon as possible.

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