In this season of thanks and gift giving, there is so much to be grateful for on the Hiram Hill. Hiram College is thankful that its students are inherently talented, yet happy for more ways to learn.

“I would say that one of the strongest skills that students from Liberal Arts schools have is communication. Etiquette dinners and presentations help to continue that education—and it’s one of the most important skills when you go to find a job,” says Bethani Burkhart, director of Career and Academic Services at Hiram College.

After seeing this strength in the students she works with, Burkhart was given an opportunity to help them blossom more in their communication talents through a generous suit scholarship.

Donated by Susan Minor in honor of her mother, Delphine Schneider ’44, the funding was presented to help students acquire professional interview attire for their post-undergraduate careers.

“Delphine Schneider was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Oct. 30, 1922. She graduated from Seton Hill Academy in 1940 and went on to attend Hiram College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1944. While at Hiram, Delphine met her husband to be, of 66 years, George. Her passions in life included traveling, shopping, activities with friends and neighbors, and music, singing with her beautiful voice and playing the piano. A classy and stylish lady, Delphine was known for her meticulous appearance. Thus, Delphine’s daughter, Susan Minor, thought a fitting way to carry on her legacy is to provide etiquette programming for Hiram students,” read the placards on each table at the event.

Students were asked only to participate in a fashion show and etiquette dinner to receive the first round of scholarships. However, the dinner was November 27, the day before classes started up for the fall three-week, so these students had to be serious and cut their Fall Break a little early. Eight students were selected for the first round to receive the suits, and eight more were chosen for the next round of scholarships.

The original eight students chosen were:

Abigail Stevenson ’19
Alec Eldridge ’19
Amber Bessner ’19
Hannah Cramer ’19
Matthew Peterson ’19
Charlie Wirfel ’20
Dawn Condeza ’20
Rodney Myers ’20

“For me,” Burkhart says, “the most fun part was shopping with students. It was neat to see some students who I would never think would be in the same social circles hang out and talk.”

She spent nearly nine hours shopping with the first eight award recipients. Shopping at the Aurora Farms Premium Outlets, each student could select up to $150 in clothing, as long as it was no more than one outfit.

Just over 60 attendees arrived at the Etiquette Dinner and Fashion Show. With an alum at almost every table, about 50 students were given the opportunity to further their knowledge of professional interview skills with those in the work force.

The night consisted of a three course meal, an etiquette presentation by Deborah A. Okey, J.D. (pictured at right), a fashion show to model the new interview attire (MC’d by Mark Sobnosky ’19 and Erica Lohan ’20), a time to network with alumni, and the announcement of the next eight award recipients.

The new recipients had to submit a 250 word or less essay on their reasoning for needing a suit along with a brief application form. They also had to attend the etiquette dinner. A small selection committee was given “blinded” applications and each member was asked to choose the eight most deserving from the pile. The top eight scores were the next awardees:

Celina Sarko ’20
Hannah Hilty ’19
Faith Harrison ’19
Jared Miller ’19
Matthew Sisserson ’19
Meredith Montgomery ’19
Reeve Bowling ’19
Zakari Marinjako ’19

To pull all this together, there had to be strong goals in mind.

“Number one is just to teach students about etiquette, especially in a formal dining setting. Second, is allowing students to network with some of our alumni while building potential mentorships. Then, also, to provide students with an idea of what appropriate interview attire would look like. Every outfit on the stage was very different. That’s really important because when you are going to interview, what you wear really depends on what you are interviewing for, or the culture of the company. Grad school attire is going to look a little different than if you are applying for a position in accounting,” states Burkhart.

In the end, students gained knowledge, alumni returned to their alma mater, and thanks was given to the amazing people that allow students to grow in and outside of the classroom, both through mentorships and unexpected scholarships.
by Abigail Stevenson

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