Indiana State University Newsroom

Bon appetite: Networks Scholars explore business through cuisine

November 20, 2015

"We're opening. It's time."

If those words frightened any the 20 freshmen scholars in Indiana State University's Networks Professional Development Program they didn't show it, as they hosted an International Dining Experience for more than 50 Scott College of Business faculty, staff and fellow scholars.

Instead, they greeted, seated, served and treated their guests to a night of dining and education about culture and business practices in Russia, Ireland, Belgium and Greece using food, PowerPoint presentations and poster displays.

"It was all a little intimidating at first," said Olivia Havenor, a financial services major from Plainfield whose team sought help from Nicholas Debly, an Indiana State student in the MBA program who is from Russia and works in Terre Haute, to create an accurate presentation. "But we contacted the caterers and photographers, invited the guests and created the education presentations about the countries. As Networks Scholars, we are leaders and are used to getting things done on our own, but in this activity we had to learn how to work as a team to get things accomplished."

It's a skill that will help the students, not only as they progress in this program, but also as they go into the business world, said Leah Mauder, a marketing major form Jasper whose team researched Ireland

"We'll be exposed to business dinners in years to come and this is a fun way of preparing us for that," she said.

As the first big project for the freshmen Networks Scholars, it took about a month of planning, which included researching the countries and devising a menu that included Greek salad and falafels (Greece) for appetizer, two entrees - cod fish sandwich and potatoes (Ireland) and beef stroganoff (Russia), and a dessert of Belgian chocolate cheesecake (Belgium) and contacting Sodexo, George's Café and Harvest Bakery for their catering services.

"It was an involved project but it wasn't for a grade, so one of the biggest challenges was making sure that everyone was getting their work completed so we could make the dinner a success," said Katie Sullivan, a finance major from Overland Park, Kan., who was on the team that covered Greece.

As a team leader for last year's international dining experience, Nadia Snedeker was excited for the first-year scholars but glad to be rooting for them from a seat around the dinner table, instead of being behind the podium.

"I was a team leader last year and I know it was a nerve-wracking experience trying to make sure that everything was lined up and ready to go when the guests arrived," the sophomore business administration major from Casey, Ill. said. "I'm both nervous and excited for the students because I know how nervous you are beforehand, but now I can say that the experience really helped me with my organization skills and showed me the value of communicating when on a team."

This was the first year that all of the college's faculty were invited to attend, which added to the students' anxiety level. Once the nerves subside, though, Michelle Reeson, assistant director of the Networks' Professional Development Program, hopes the experience boosts their confidence when assuming similar responsibilities in the future.

"I served as their coach, helping with project planning, making sure they were getting things done and helping them think through their ideas so they could make the event a success," she said. "I want the students to feel confident now and know that they can handle putting together an event of this magnitude."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or