Evening of etiquette dinner and fashion show


Drew Andrade (center), coordinator of the NEIU Power Closet, with some of the students who volunteered as models for the business attire fashion show. | Photo by Tim LeCour

Ana Peres Bogo, Writer

The College of Business and Management had its 27th Annual Etiquette Gala on Saturday, Nov. 16. The black tie optional event was held to help students with their networking skills as well as their etiquette at a business dinner. There was also a business attire fashion show followed by the opportunity to take free professional headshots. 

The event began with cheese and wine networking reception. A three course meal was accompanied by a facilitator, Rashada Whitehead, president and chief transformation officer at KGBERRY which is a reputation management and cultural transformation company. She explained and demonstrated how to proceed with proper etiquette at the dinner table while using a PowerPoint with pictures that helped illustrate what she was talking about. 

Guests began the seated portion with an ice breaker. Each table had some index cards and Sharpies. Whitehead told everyone to write down how their personality showed in social situations. It was a very simple exercise that changed the initial silence in the room. 

Paul Leng, an NEIU alumni said, “This shows the students how to attend properly for a party, especially for a student who is almost graduating and about to enter the professional world. They are supposed to come and enjoy this event so they can learn and use it when they get a job. Students can be prepared and that is why I come here.” 

The attendees were encouraged at all times to keep talking and networking with their table peers through a simple salad and bread starter. Then, a lemon sorbet to cleanse the pallet, as Whitehead explained. The main course was roasted butter-creamed chicken over rice and a side of green beans. Dessert was a decadent slice of chocolate cake. In between courses, Whitehead went around the room to talk to every table making sure that everyone was enjoying the event. 

After all the courses were done, the executive director of Peterson Pulaski Business & Industrial Council, Janita Tucker, gave a speech about how to make a proper toast. Tucker is a member of Dean Michael Bedell’s Executive Advisory Council which consists of CEOs and executives from various industries. Each year, the members are invited by the COBM Student Advisory Council to such events as the Etiquette Gala so that they may have the opportunity to meet the students. Likewise, student attendees have the opportunity to practice their networking skills with professionals such as Tucker. 

Tucker said the event is an opportunity for students to network with business people. She also added that even herself, who grew up with very strict rules at the dinner table still learned so much in these events.

“I thought I knew it all and this is my third etiquette dinner and I always learn something new,” Tucker said. She said that the important take-away of an event like this is not being distracted while in a professional business environment, especially when you are in the beginning of your career.  

“You don’t want distractions. So, when you are trying to make an impression on someone there are a lot of ways to distract and be a distraction. You can be unaware of how best to behave while you are eating dinner,” said Tucker.

Whereas in previous years the event had a photo booth, the attendees this year were given the opportunity to update their professional photo headshots courtesy of student photographer, Jae Kim.

After the dinner portion, NEIU’s Power Closet put on a business attire fashion show for gala guests to showcase the type of donations they receive and have available to students in need of professional interview apparel. The models were a mixture of COBM students and members of Gamma Phi Omega, Phi Iota Alpha and the NEIU Black Caucus. It was facilitated by Drewzella “Drew” Andrade known by many in the NEIU community as the coordinator of the Power Closet and Student Food Pantry. 

This was a first time collaboration between the Power Closet and the College of Business and Management with the goal of bringing awareness about the Power Closet. Andrade said, “The only way (the Power Closet) runs is by donations. So, we have professors and people around campus who have jobs where they dress up all the time and now they don’t use the clothes so they donate it.”

The gala concluded by providing guests more time to network with each other and take photographs with their colleagues. 

The ladies of Gamma Phi Omega volunteered by taking charge
of the decorations for the dinner tables.
Joey Pugliese (center) was happy to be one of the volunteers
from Phi Iota Alpha.


Nida Rhaman (fifth from left) was one of the models from
COBM and invited the rest of her friends to see the show.
Accounting student, Sal Nasser (center) was emcee for the evening.
Alexx Brown representing for the
NEIU Black Caucus.
Student photographer Jae Kim
and Drew Adrande.