By Allura Morneau, Staff Writer
Walking into the South Dining Hall at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF), was like stepping
into another world. Our normally drab and ordinary dining hall had been magically transformed over-
night into a lavish banquet hall. The typical Cambro plates and cups had been replaced with more chic
glass dinnerware. Ornate gold and violet floral center pieces complemented the table sets. Every seat had
a Pilsner glass we could take home as souvenirs, and a carefully folded maroon napkin, matching the
school colors. Students and faculty alike were dressed in their finest. Many gentlemen wore ties for the
first time in months and there were ladies with satin and taffeta dresses that fluttered as they walked up to
accept their awards.
Even the lovely Senator Susan Collins, dressed in a sophisticated blue skirt-suit, came to honor the
UMF students that participated in school Clubs, teams and organizations, on the evening of April 17th
soon as she entered the brick red doors to the dining hall, she was greeted with standing applause. After
an introduction by Traci Norwood, Banquet Committee Chair, Collins gave an impassioned Keynote
speech to the students of UMF about leadership, and how important our contributions were to the
community and the school, “I was so impressed when I heard that (UMF), with just under two thousand
students, five hundred participate in clubs and organizations. That’s pretty amazing,” said Foster.
In that same speech, she also described her journey becoming a female senator. Inspired by the late
Senator Margaret Chase Smith during her life, Collins spoke of how she persevered through sexism, and
doubt from her colleagues. When she lost the election for senator the first time, she didn’t give up, and
kept going and won after running a second time. “The biggest regrets in life, are not the ones when you
tried and fails, but when you failed to try,” said Collins.
Collins shared the wisdom she learned from her journey about leadership with the leaders of UMF, “If I
had to sum up all the components of leadership into one word, that word would be integrity.” She went on
to say that leadership is about trying to, “bring people together.”
She ended he speech with a Lebanese proverb, “Lower your voice and strengthen your argument,” said
Collins, “The knowledge you will gain here (UMF) will help you learn to strengthen your arguments…”
There were other speeches given that night before and after the giving of awards. UMF President
Kathryn Foster spoke about how the many clubs bring community to the school. “That is what makes
UMF such a great place to be,” said Foster.
The new Student Senate President also said a few words closing the ceremony thanking the clubs,
teams, and organizations at UMF. “You had work does not go unnoticed and that is why we are here
The awards were given between introductions and brief speeches. The Jill Schwab Underclassman
Award, presented by Thomas Bearor, was given to Elizabeth Ferry. The Michael Winston Award,
presented by Matt Winston, who was accompanied by Thomas Winston, was given to Sean Skillet. The
Theo Kalikow Award, presented by Tyler Hadyniak, was given to Dr. Daniel Gunn. And like last year’s
Banquet, Kathryn Foster presented all of the Above and Beyond Awards.
Traci Norwood even gave a surprise award to Judy Adams of Student Life to show UMF’s
appreciation for her contributions.
A lot of planning went into the event by the Banquet Committee. “The Leadership Banquet is an event
that focuses on honoring the students, clubs, and organizations at UMF. The job of the banquet chair is to
organize and plan the banquet,” said Norwood.
Norwood and the three other committee members are in charge of making every little decision. “(We)
do everything involved with the banquet. Everything from the invitations, gifts, food, flowers, picking the
keynote speaker; everything.”
The committee starts planning for the big event very early in the school year. “We elect the chair in
September, so (planning) starts in September and goes to April.” About four hundred people attend,
primarily students, according to Norwoood.
Norwood expressed gratitude for President Foster. “President Foster always takes part in the banquet.
She hands out the Above and Beyond Awards and makes remarks. We are really lucky to have her.”
This is her fourth year on the committee, and third year as chair.
Kate Turpen, committee member, also described some of her duties for the event. “I’ve been in charge
of the Michael Winston award, which is given at the banquet to a community oriented senior,” said
Turpen. “The award is going to a very deserving senior. We also pick the pilsner glasses.”
Turpen also said that she and committee member Chelsey Oliver were in charge of choosing the floral
arrangements. “We had six hundred fifty dollars to spend on center pieces and five or six bouquets.”
This is her first year on senate and the banquet committee. She is looking to be chair next year.