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Newest Alumni Brunch Honors Spring Graduates

Event Speaker Houston Striggow (BA ’75) Seeds Gift in Honor of Class of 2017

(May 17, 2017, East Lansing, MI)  Graduates from The School of Hospitality Business at MSU celebrated their accomplishments on Saturday, May 6 at a Newest Alumni Brunch at the University Club.  They gathered with family and friends, faculty and staff for the annual event hosted by The School’s student-led Hospitality Association (HA).

Advisor to HA and the Director of the Student and Industry Resource Center Authella Collins Hawks welcomed the guests and recalled meaningful events from the past four years.  Houston Striggow (BA ’75) was the featured speaker.  He is the co-founder and COO of SusieCakes, with locations in Northern and Southern California and Texas.  This unique company is known for its “art of celebration” and classic desserts made entirely from scratch using simple, natural ingredients.

Dr. Bonnie Knutson and Houston Striggow

Houston is a generous alumnus who serves on The School’s Alumni Association Appointed Board of Directors and was named to its Hall of Fame Class of Coaches in 2011.  He returns frequently to campus to speak in classes and mentor students, and recruits and hires students for internships and career positions. Houston spoke of the ways The School has assisted him in the years since he graduated, and discussed SusieCakes and its celebration philosophy.  He encouraged the graduates to think about the importance of giving, of true hospitality, of human connection, and of making people feel valued.

Houston is also a member of the Broad College Alumni Association Board.  As such, he spoke to the graduates of the plans for the Broad College Pavilion, the future expanded home for the College.  Houston recently pledged $50,000 toward the effort to build the Pavilion, and said, “My gift today to you is this: I have asked our development office to put together the first-ever collective named gift in the name of The School of Hospitality Business Class of 2017. I want all of you to have a unique place at the Pavilion. Something with your name on it. To this end, I have seeded the gift with a pledge of $2,017 in a tribute to your graduating class.” He went on to challenge each graduate to sign a pledge of a minimum of $100 a year for five years, with a goal of a $50,000 total pledge.  On the spot, other faculty members and alumni matched Houston’s pledge for the graduating class.

CEO of HA Didi Bibi (BA ’17) spoke to the guests as well, and told the students that throughout their years at MSU, they had learned well the lessons of remembering their roots, of staying involved as alumni, and of giving back.  To that end, she presented Interim Director Bonnie Knutson with a check in the amount of $10,000 from the earnings of the three major annual student-led events in The School:  CAREER EXPO, Destination Auction, and Les Gourmets.  The funds are to support student activities, student employment in classrooms, as well as $1,000 earmarked for the Pavilion.

Outstanding seniors, voted by their peers, were Didi Bibi and Lucas Jarett (BA ’17), the 2016 CAREER EXPO CEO.  At the close of the brunch, each graduate had the opportunity to be photographed with Dr. Knutson and received a School memento from HA.

“Graduation is always bittersweet,” says Ms. Hawks.  “We celebrate with the students all of their accomplishments and for obtaining their degree.  But most have also touched our lives in very personal ways and they will be sorely missed.  We look forward to their staying close to us as alumni.”

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