For Rudyard A. Hopkins (’09), attending an etiquette dinner put on by the BYU Student Alumni Association fit two of his most important interests. “I like to eat, and I like people,” says the Camarillo, Calif., senior majoring in communications. “So learning to eat and behaving correctly over dinner seems like a great idea to me.”
Six hundred of his classmates appear to agree because they also attended the event. The Professional Etiquette Dinner was originally scheduled for 300, but it sold out in three days. To accommodate the demand, a second dinner was added and sold out in five days, and requests continued.
“Students want to know how to behave properly professionally,” says Joseph R. Nance (’09), the Student Alumni Association’s external relations vice president, who directed the event. “This is one way the student association can help them feel more comfortable as they enter the workforce—and, consequently, reflect positively on BYU.”
Participants learned the ins and outs of proper etiquette, compliments of Kaye T. Hanson (BA ’64), a professor in the Marriott School of Management. She not only showed proper ways of eating food—spoon your soup away from you, for example—she also gave several tips on behavior, particularly those that put others at ease.
“What used to be taught in homes across America before children entered school seems to have gone the way of homemade bread and strawberry jam,” she said. “And comfortableness seems to have gone with it. Yet good manners make good sense.”
Hanson’s advice to forget about oneself and be actively involved in conversation with others resonated with Erin McQuivey (’08), a senior in communication disorders from Pleasant View, Utah. “I sometimes feel uncomfortable in social settings, but a change of perspective will make it a different, better experience for me.”
While exercise science major Daniel T. Graves (’09) came because it was a “cheap date”—a five course meal for $10 with part of the costs covered by BYU Dining Services—he says he also found it informative and entertaining.
Nance enjoyed receiving hints from Hanson. “Everything she said was useful,” he says, “and it didn’t seem overbearing. She created a fun, conversational atmosphere.”