Taste of the Tropics – Scholarship Fundraiser

After deciding that a Sports Media degree was not for me, I decided to not drop my Journalism major and to add a Hospitality Restaurant Tourism Management major to my degree on top of my minors in Business, Leadership, and Women and Gender Studies. One of the best (and honestly worst) experiences came from an advanced events class that I took in my third semester of being an HRTM major.

Throughout the duration of this class, the objective was to plan and execute two big events, both of which were already hand-picked by the professor. The first event that we were supposed to do was a murder mystery dinner but unfortunately the event was canceled due to circumstances that were completely out of our hands. The worst thing about this was having to deal with and adapt to the issues that arose only for the overall event to be cancelled in the end because someone opposite our team didn’t pull their weight. In the end, all of the marketing materials we designed and redesigned, we useless, all the brainstorming and blueprint plans we came up with had no platform to be executed. Needless to say, any chance I get in the future to plan a murder mystery dinner, I’ll know new excuses and checkpoints to look for. I’m also going to take full advantage of the opportunity because of how this one escalated and de-escalated so quickly.

For our second event, we were put in charge of our program’s fundraiser for student scholarships. It might have been because I was so looking forward to the murder mystery dinner, but I was consistently disappointed with how this event came together. From the very get-go, coming up with the theme and name of the event was an instant frustration. During a groupthink before putting ideas to a vote, I was under the impression that we for the most part wanted this to be a slightly high-end event with an elegant theme and simple modern details. With that, we came up with themes and ideas along the lines of toned-down Gatsby, black suit, Starry Night inspiration for decor, piano or smooth jazz entertainment, you get the jist. However, when put to a vote, “luau themed” won, of course even after trying to convince Nebraskans that cultural appropriation and lack of respect for Hawaiian culture is NOT a good look. That’s honestly one of the worst things about deciding to go to school in Lincoln, Nebraska; it’s a college city in the middle of a small town where more often than not, the people’s minds are just as small and closed in as Lincoln itself. SO, as you can see, we’re already off to quite the rough start. I wish I had kept track of the number of times that I had to correct and reiterate why our theme is ‘tropical’ and NOT Hawaiian or luau and having to complain to the head of the department about this professors lack of respect for my consistent corrections and concerns with going through with the theme, the entire process just became more frustrating from there on.

Fast-forward to after my suggestion “Tropic like it’s Hot” was voted the event name by the class, our professor decided that we need to come up with a different name because that didn’t fit the fancy theme that we were apparently still going for after determining that our theme was tropical barbeque..

Anyways, A Taste of the Tropics is what we decided, and although I was obviously butthurt, the name we landed on is one of the few things I was impressed by and satisfied with. After having so many random issues pertaining to the murder mystery dinner, the fundraiser was seriously not too far behind. There were some communication issues between the operations and marketing teams, communication issues with our group leaders, information being relayed differently to each group, not being relayed to some people at all sometimes, overall lack of experience from the professor teaching this class not as a senior capstone, and lack of experience from the sophomores the professors chose to be leaders to each (marketing and operations) team of upperclassmen. Unfortunately, to say it bluntly, the power dynamic and communication were the biggest issues and downfall of our hand-picked events.

As far as my personal responsibilities go, I created and consistently managed an operations timeline for the planning the event, a production schedule for the day of, I designed and created an immersive networking experience for guests, along with creating handwritten signage to promote the event and introduce activities at the event (including the drink sign pictured below) and photographing the event.

In the end, it was worth the emotional management, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills that I was able to gain from this experience. On top of that, being able to add to my resume an event with a zero dollar budget, and finally add a new post to my blog.

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