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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Annamarie Parker
Annamarie Parker
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I am an English, Writing major with a double minor in German and journalism. I'm also pursuing my TESOL certificate while working for Housing and Residence Life. I love to travel and meet new people.

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Gala showcases Wildcat hospitality and local foods

Photo by Lindsey Eaton

A steady flow of guests enjoyed the DJ’s playlist of ’80s funk and classic rock, raffle drawings every half hour and a seemingly endless buffet table of locally sourced food and drinks, creating a fun, loose atmosphere for the occasion.

The doors to the NMU Hospitality Gala opened 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24  at the Marquette Commons. Organized and set up almost entirely by NMU students currently in the hospitality and tourism management program, the gala demonstrated exactly what hospitality is all about.

“[The gala] showcases what we do,” said Anna Dravland, community relations and travel marketing coordinator at Travel Marquette, one of the major sponsors of the event, and an NMU hospitality and tourism management alumna herself. “We’re about creating something special.”

Photo by Lindsey Eaton

The event’s student organizers wore yellow T-shirts with “NMU Hospitality Gala” scribed on the front, and on several occasions, they were pulled aside by coordinators and guests alike to compliment them on the good job they’ve been doing. People outside NMU’s program appreciated their efforts as well.

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“We’re here to celebrate NMU hospitality management students and alumni,” Melissa Orzechowski, director of Taste the Local Difference, Michigan’s local foods marketing agency, explained.

As the Upper Peninsula’s first Certified Local Food Event, the food and drinks of the gala were entirely from U.P. farms and chefs. This tasty array was a big draw for many of the attendees.

“Investing in local food means investing in the local economy,” Orzechowski said on the importance of sourcing food closer to home.

In addition to the economic benefits of getting food locally, the gala showed how local collaboration can increase a sense of community.

“Connecting as a community can bring people together,” Alex Palzewicz, a lead organizer of the gala, said.

Being a recent hospitality alumna as well, Palzewicz’s passion for hospitality came out in spades when she spoke about what went into organizing this event. She frequently mentioned how local foods and farms are a staple to a close-knit and economically sound community.

She emphasized how important communication between consumers and their food source is, mentioning how she believes the more localized a community is the better it will be.

“It’s really good for people to talk,” Palzewicz added.

The weather started to cool as the event carried on into the night, but there was never a dull moment amidst the lively music and festivities. Food and beer elegantly topped the large round dinner tables and tall cocktail tables. Guests filled the area, carrying on jovial conversations about the highlights of the event and the quality of the NMU hospitality program.

“Professors go above and beyond outside of the classroom,” Dravland added.

Current students, like senior hospitality and tourism management major Tamara Hunter, appreciate their professors for many reasons.

“They gave me a chance at something I didn’t think I’d be able to do,” Hunter said. 

She said her professors offer encouragement, and the faith they put in students helps prepare them for entering the workforce. Hunter, now a line cook and assistant event manager at DIGS Gastropub in Marquette, attributes her current job entirely to the opportunities made possible by her professors.

Another point emphasized by both Dravland and Orzechowski was to try to get people who are not in the industry to see hospitality as a real career, rather than just as a place to start one’s professional life before finding a different occupation. It’s a good path for anyone at any stage of life.

“Hospitality is the driving force for so many people,” Dravland said.

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