With spring commencement less than two months away, Ouachita’s class of 2013 will soon receive their first official welcome into the Ouachita Alumni circle by way of a purple, fortune cookie-themed invitation. The invitation is for the Senior Dinner, which is hosted by the alumni office and will be held on April 4 at 5:30 p.m. in Walker Conference Center.
Jon Merryman, director of alumni, says the event has come a long way since he attended as a senior. “The food is so much better now,” he noted, “and the Senior Dinner is quite a bigger deal.”
This year’s menu will feature hand-rolled sushi, teriyaki chicken, fried rice, steamed rice and egg rolls. Merryman, who planned the dinner, adds that dessert will be a surprise. “We’ve put together something special just for this class,” he said.
In addition to the meal, attending seniors will receive a “Bursting the Bubble” booklet, written especially for an audience of seniors who may be apprehensive about stepping into the “real” world after graduation. “It has all kinds of information about how to survive outside of Ouachita including how to get insurance or set a table for a fancy dinner party – all kinds of fun stuff,” Merryman explained.
Other highlights include the photo booth, which will be especially significant for the class of 2013. “This is the first class to have come in with the purple and gold party at the New Student Retreat,” Merryman said, “and they will be able to take one last purple and gold photo booth photo upon arrival at the dinner.” Seniors can also submit photos from their time at Ouachita for a slideshow that will be presented that night.
Each year the alumni office invites a recent graduate back to speak at the dinner. “They share how Ouachita prepared them for their career and about the network of alums they run into,” Merryman said. “Basically, we want seniors to know there is hope! You’re going to get a job and the support of other alums will be of great value as you leave the bubble.” This year’s speakers will be Austin and Ashton Samuelson, both 2008 graduates of Ouachita and co-founders of PITZA42 in Conway, Ark. PITZA42 is a restaurant with a mission: for every meal purchased in the restaurant, PITZA42 donates funds for one meal to Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to ending hunger internationally.
Seniors can also look forward to hearing from Dr. J. Scott Duvall, professor of biblical studies and Ouachita’s “Inspirational Professor of the Year” for 2012.
After hearing from speakers, the Golden Rex awards will be announced. Jake Edwards, senior class president, has worked with a committee to select nominees for the awards, which are always a crowd favorite.
Ultimately, the Senior Dinner seeks to honor graduating seniors while welcoming them to the Ouachita network of alumni. “We want students to begin to think of themselves as alums, to connect with our office, and to already be planning to come back to homecoming,” Merryman said.
For further information, contact Jon Merryman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-5111. RSVP to Merryman via email by March 28.
By Mary Castleman