Banquet draws 300, seniors celebrate college experience

Glasses clinked and laughter filled the Woulfe Alumni Hall Thursday night as about 300 seniors gathered to celebrate their achievements and time spent together.

Nadine Friedrichs, Alumni Relations manager, planned the Student Alumni Council event and said that a lot of work went into putting the banquet together, especially because of its new location in the Anderson Student Center.

“Last Tuesday we had 43 tickets sold,” Friedrichs said. “Our goal is always to get 300 to 500 of the seniors here. We have about 300 here tonight, so it was a big climb.”

The evening began with a prayer from the Rev. Erich Rutten and an announcement about the senior class gift. The class of 2012 will be donating money to a scholarship fund to help a senior complete the last semester of his or her undergraduate degree.

After dinner, the seniors enjoyed a photo slideshow of the people and events that shaped their experience at St. Thomas.

Friedrichs said this particular senior class is special because of the changes that have been made on campus since they arrived.

“They came in to the old campus and are leaving with the new campus,” she said. “They’re the one class that really gets the whole panorama.”

Senior Patrick Fogarty said the banquet was a great way to end his four years at St. Thomas.

“It’s a good way to celebrate the culmination of four years,” Fogarty said. “These are the people I started college with, and it’s a good way to end it.”

Seniors Dick Konerza and Elizabeth Peterson said they enjoyed seeing all of the people that they met over the years.

“I feel like I’ve known half these people from freshman year; and the other half I’ve known from class, so it’s good to see everyone again,” Konerza said. “Plus, we’re all looking fresh.”

Senior Jenny Mammen celebrated her 22nd birthday at the banquet and reminisced about her college career.

“I came from a small town, and I’ve made a home here. I think that’s what I look back on and am most proud of,” Mammen said.

Fogarty said that although he is excited for the future, graduating is a bittersweet experience.

“Honestly, it goes downhill from here because my years at St. Thomas were the best four years of my life,” Fogarty said.

Senior Jenna Ehret agreed.

“I would never ever change my experience,” Ehret said. “I would never go anywhere else.”

Mammen said she knows she made lifelong friends during the last four years.

“We’re excited to graduate, but it’s bittersweet because it’s where our whole group of friends met; it’s where we grew into our own selves,” Mammen said.

Baihly Warfield can be reached at