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Breaking bread with AKPsi

By Brittany Blackshear
On March 27, 2011

The Key West Ballroom's tables were set, napkins placed on laps and dinner was ready to be served. As men and women in business-casual attire chatted with each other, it looked like a typical gathering of business professionals, but all who attended this dinner were UCF students.

And it wasn't just dinner. The gathering that took place on March 25 was the second-annual Business Etiquette Dinner hosted by Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity.

Jason Willis, a senior finance major and the vice president of professional activities in AKPsi, was in charge of running the event.

"Alpha Kappa Psi decided to host an etiquette dinner because it is an aspect that most students do not consider before graduation," Willis said. "An interview conducted over lunch or dinner can be ruined by improper etiquette and most students are unfamiliar with the finer aspects."

The dinner's keynote speaker, Nancy Marshall, has been conducting etiquette workshops for years, as the keynote speaker for the evening. Marshall was also the keynote speaker for the fraternity's first etiquette dinner.

"AKPsi is one of the premier academic fraternities on campus," Marshall said. "They're a good, engaging audience, and I enjoy speaking to them."

Marshall said students who are business majors often want to be able to use etiquette as a tool.

"Pizza and finger foods are fine for now, but students are only on college campuses for a few short years, then it's on to the career world," Marshall said. "Whether it's fair or not, you're judged on how well you handle yourself in business and social situations. Your mastery of etiquette is constantly being evaluated, consciously or subconsciously, and your knowledge of proper etiquette is just another tool for success."

Throughout the entire course of dinner, Marshall told students exactly what to do and what not to do. This included everything from which fork is the salad fork to how to avoid catapulting food in a dinner guest's face.

Although the event was a dinner, Marshall emphasized the importance of conversation, not the food.

"The No. 1 thing to remember is that if you make a big mistake, it is not the end of the world," Marshall said. "Your main goal here is to make contacts."

AKPsi member Graham Austin, a senior economics major, felt he benefitted greatly from the business etiquette dinner.

"I definitely learned a lot and I will be able to conduct myself better in the future," Austin said. "Good etiquette shows that you are worth doing business with and knowing on a professional level."

Amanda Rodriguez, a junior accounting major not involved with AKPsi, decided to come out to simply brush up on her etiquette.

By hosting this event, AKPsi seeks to further its exposure on campus and to the general student population while providing an event to the students that will further the knowledge and preparation of students preparing for graduation.

The fraternity would like to include other organizations in the planning stages and expand the event to include more students for the next etiquette dinner next spring.

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