By Morgan Clark, Staff Reporter
Members of UMF’s clubs and organizations recently gathered for the annual Leadership Banquet, where students and faculty enjoyed a buffet style dinner and listened to presentations of awards, as well as a keynote speaker who spoke on the importance of children and reaching out to help others.
The Leadership Banquet is held every spring, this year marking the 24th banquet, with a total of 48 clubs in attendance.
The speaker who was selected for this year’s banquet, Bill Legere, founder of the Hope and Grace Foundation in recognition of his daughter who passed away eight years ago, spoke about channeling other people’s misery, and on the importance of children.
“I think it’s important to embrace pain and suffering,” he said. He suggests that people do not just ignore it, they may initially tend to do, but instead, deal with pain in a way conducive to their own needs.
“We ask Senate and the committee members to generate a list of leaders in the Maine community,” said Liya Mindaye, the chair of the Leadership Banquet committee in a Facebook interview speaking about the process to pick the keynote speaker for the event. “…someone who can teach the leaders who attend the leadership banquet something new as they go out into the world and continue to be the awesome leaders that they are.”
His speech aimed to inspire those in attendance to speak up and do what they can to help others, such as embracing suffering as he mentioned often. “Anyone in your situation can make a difference,” he said.
“Never be afraid to tell a story,” said Legere, “it’s a powerful way to make a connection.”
Legere is a doctor, and had many stories of his adventures in less fortunate countries. He suggested to his audience the power of helping others and working with each other. “Humans together have a chance to really do something amazing,” he told room full of UMF’s leaders.
“I enjoyed listening to him speak,” said Kayla Girardin, junior at UMF who has attended the event three times for both the French Club and the Track and Field Club. “I liked that he stressed the importance of embracing suffering and sadness in order to connect to others and inspire hope.”
Aside from the Legere’s speech, many club members were recognized for Above and Beyond awards. Recipients were chosen by the members of the club they are associated with based upon their hard work and dedication throughout the year.
“All [Student] Senate recognized clubs and organizations are invited to go,” Mindaye said. “Typically the most active and dedicated members of the clubs get first priority, particularly this year since they had to limit clubs to bringing nine people due to fire code.” In the past the banquet was open to all members, but this year numbers were more controlled.
“I thought it was well put together and as usual a good opportunity to recognize clubs for their contributions to the campus community,” Girardin said.
Mindaye said she was excited by the turnout for this year’s banquet, but is hoping next year it will be open to more people. “We are hoping to hold it at a bigger location in the future,” she said, “as our clubs increase and as members of people increase so do our leaders and so should our banquet.”