The Night We Were All Stars
The AUSA Banquet took place last Sunday, April 23 at the Century Center in South Bend, Indiana. Attendees arrived in pairs or groups starting shortly before the official starting time of 6:00 p.m., though the evening’s programming didn’t begin until past 7:00 p.m.
As guests arrived, they proceeded down a flight of stairs (where photographers waited to take photos) to the Great Hall, a 16,000 square foot space with a spectacular view of the St. Joseph River.
Kyle Lucrida (junior, management), AUSA Financial Vice President and one of the coordinators of the event, called the venue “incredibly beautiful and accommodating.”
Besides Lucrida, other AUSA members were instrumental in coordinating the event, including Yasmin Benjelloun (junior, wellness), AUSA Social Vice President, and Jonathan David (sophomore, psychology), Benjelloun’s assistant. Lucrida was responsible for various details involved in planning, such as choosing the menu, setting up the photo booth and selling tickets.
“During the banquet I welcomed guests and got them checked in,” Lucrida said. “I came up with the Hollywood theme as well as assisted in creating the events for the night’s program.”
The Great Hall was filled with lavishly-decorated tables, where salad and dessert were already laid out in front of each seat. A side table contained appetizers such as cheese, spring rolls and turnovers. Guests could also get sparkling juice and soft drinks from the open “bar” as well. Once the programming started, banquet-goers were served manicotti and vegetables.
One of the attendees, Ryan Atkins (Master of English, first year) said, “The food and setting was great, but I kinda think that if it's put together well that should fade into the background and you should mostly notice the people and entertainment, and that's exactly what happened.”
The emcee, Logan Stout (Master of Arts in Youth and Young Adult Ministry, second year), introduced the evening’s entertainment and joked with the audience—in a reference to PepsiCo’s controversial ad, Stout gestured towards several cans of Pepsi he had available in case he needed to appease an unhappy crowd. The programming began with several musical acts, including Taylor Bartram (senior, religion) and Nathan Verrill (senior, engineering) who both played guitar and sang, as did Shaly Torres (junior, psychology) and Heather Moore (senior, psychology). As the evening continued a lip-sync battle began with songs from Queen, Omi and Lady Gaga.
Atkins added, “I think I was most impressed by the entertainment towards the end, like Cameron Van Buren’s (senior, communications) original music, and a lot of the lip-syncing.”
“Performing at the banquet was a very different experience for me because of the formal set-up not being something I am used to,” said Van Buren, who rapped and lip-synced at two points during the evening, “but I really enjoyed the opportunity to showcase my talent in that setting and bring my own style to the AUSA banquet.”
As dusk fell, the string lights hung above the tables in the Great Hall came on, bathing the floor in soft light. Outside, buildings along the river were lit up in multicolor. The atmosphere was relaxing and entertaining.
Bartram commented, “The AUSA banquet was a great time for me with my friends. I thought all of the elements were good: the food, the venue, the music, the host. All of it!”
“Overall, I think that the banquet went very well and I was pleased with the turnout,” Lucrida remarked. “I enjoyed the informal structure of this banquet compared to those prior. I certainly had fun and it seemed like those around me enjoyed their time too.”