Jaraya Johnson

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — The Winthrop University chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (WUABJ) hosted a business etiquette dinner last month, which gave attendees the opportunity to network with professionals and hear advice about achieving success after graduation.

The event, Feb. 26, featured dinner, interactive presentations and a poetry reading, intended to help students learn how to present themselves in a professional setting.

“The purpose of our business etiquette dinner is to give students the tools they need to excel outside of school and after they graduate, so we had panelists tonight talk about personal branding and financial literacy,” said Brooke Frierson, president of the WUABJ.

This was the second annual etiquette dinner hosted by the Winthrop Association of Black Journalists. Last year, April Moore, former president of the group, got the idea to help students figure out how to brand themselves and learn how to act professionally when invited to a business dinner.

“As a member of that (executive) board, I was able to contribute to the success of the very first business etiquette dinner,” said Frierson. “This year, I am honored to bring you guys the second one and I am also honored to lead WUABJ and our exec board as we bring you, hopefully, an even better or just as good event.”

Moore, who founded the public relations and brand consulting firm Elevate with Robin, gave a presentation on personal branding, finding ways to stand out from others and perfecting the elevator pitch.

Serena Williams, one of the panelists, discussed financial literacy and the importance of saving money. During her presentation, attendees were asked to reevaluate their spending habits with questions like “do I need it” or “do I want it?”

The theme of the event was “Play Your Cards Right,” so tables were decorated with playing cards and the event’s program was made to resemble a poker card.

“We’re doing that because we’re basically setting you guys up for success or to basically take these skills and put yourself in a better position to capture an opportunity,” said Zuri Anderson, treasurer of the WUABJ.

The poetry reading by Angelo Geter, director of the DiGiorgio Student Union, was centered around Black History Month and soul food.

However, judging from the reactions of those in attendance, there was a deeper and more powerful meaning behind Geter’s words.

“Your soul must be free of all of its hate before it takes a bite of love, let it float down your esophagus and into this ocean of a body,” Geter told the group. “Take a teaspoon of your grandmother’s smile, a cup of Nat Turner’s blood, a pinch of Harriet Tubman’s conviction and mix it into a cauldron until you begin to smell the honor of your heritage. Disrupt the aroma of racism in the air.”

According to the members of the group’s executive board, the event was a success even though attendance was light.

“We didn’t get the exact number of people we wanted. I feel like it was more of a ‘quality over quantity’ thing, because I feel like our guests still learned a lot and it was pretty successful,” said Kennedi Harris, vice president of the WUABJ.