Despite the effects of a winter storm the night before, Fall graduates from the School of Hospitality Business gathered after commencement exercises on Saturday, December 17 with their families, friends, and School faculty and staff for the School’s newest Alumni Luncheon at the University Club on campus.

Alex Clark

Alex Clark

Hosted by the student-led Hospitality Association (HA) and the School’s Student and Industry Resource Center (SIRC) Director Authella Collins Hawks, the event featured an alumna and one of Forbes’ 30 under 30, Alexandra Clark (BA Hospitality Business ’10), as speaker.  Alex is the founder and owner of Bon Bon Bon, recently cited as providing some of The World’s Best Chocolates by top pastry chefs for  With two locations currently, in Detroit and Hamtramck, Bon Bon Bon has garnered fans at Martha Stewart Living, Vanity Fair, Detroit Eater, and many others.

Ms. Hawks welcomed the gathering, introducing the officers of HA, as well as the faculty and staff who were present.  She also noted that Alex Clark was present with her very own bad-weather chauffeur, her father, Tom!

Interim School Director Dr. Bonnie Knutson recalled that legendary MSU president John Hannah used to tell graduates that once they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, they were forever bound to MSU, and MSU was forever bound to them.  “Come home often,” she urged the newest alumni.  She also shared her very meaningful poem:

S is for Students, the reason we are.
They come to gain knowledge, from near and from far.
They come to find Spirit, that thing that’s inside,
That thing that makes us all swell with pride.

So the P stands for Pride, it’s what we all feel
For each memory cherished that is very real.
Of dorms, and of libraries, of assignments galore
Of games, and of pep rallies, of late nights and more.

The first A means the Arts, from Wharton to Broad
That takes us all down a gentler road.
Through music, and plays, and dancing as well
Plus the culinary arts, I must tell.

The R gives us Research to solve mankind’s woes
From cancer to hunger to business it goes
Beyond what is now to what it can be
To transform our lives, that’s what Spartans see.

The T is for Teaching, which, of course, is our heart,
But it goes beyond books to a much larger part
Learning for life is what we instill
Making it so true that Spartans Will.

The second A means Alumni, that’s me and that’s you
Coming back, giving back, with faith so true
To Shadows in twilight and ivy-covered halls
To memories of silence as it falls.

N means the Nature, its beauty abounds
40,000 plus trees are all around
Then there’s Beal Gardens, the Red Cedar, and our loveable ducks,
Even the smell of manure, which really —-!

The final S is for Sparty, so tall so pristine,
Now aren’t you all glad, you’re not a Wolverine!

When Alex spoke to the students, she spoke as a recent alumna who nonetheless could say from personal experience that Spartan graduates “have a whole crew of people to support you all over the world, ready and waiting for you.”  She recounted the times that Spartans have stepped in to help her realize her dream of being a chocolatier.  Among them was when Detroit Athletic Club General Manager and School Alumnus Ted Gillary (BA Hospitality Business ’75), upon learning that a fellow grad was working in the DAC pastry shop to absorb everything it could teach her, stopped by every day thereafter to mentor Alex.  He now orders Bon Bon Bons for the DAC.

In retelling the times that Spartans have made introductions, mentored, offered assistance, and helped make things happen for her, Alex noted that there is simply an almost un-definable connection (and advantage) among those with degrees from MSU.  “You have a degree,” she told the new graduates.  “But the greatest value is the ‘from MSU’ part.”  The best way to explain that connection?  Well, Alex made the trip to speak to the graduates on the busiest weekend of the busiest time of the year for her business – in a snowstorm.  Enough said!

The celebration continued as Ms. Hawks recognized the graduates who had served as officers in the many industry-related clubs and the major events, as well as the academic high-achievers, including Chelsea Donahue (BA Hospitality Business ’16), who graduated with highest GPA.  With closing remarks from HA president and CEO Alex Trompke (BA Hospitality Business ’17), the graduates each received a laptop bag with the School’s logo and a personal congratulations and photo with Dr. Knutson.

Congratulations to the School’s Newest Alumni.