With almost 30 sold-out tables, the 12th annual Great Conversation! raised $148,430 to benefit UTSA’s Honors College on Feb. 29. A room in the Institute of Texan Cultures was transformed into a catered dining hall with tables equipped with conversation leaders and eager listeners.
Christi Fish, Associate Director of Media Relations at UTSA, explained that when the event was first conceived, community members and prominent university figures were approached to donate their time to help enhance attendance. Now, the event is so widely recognized, conversation leaders ask to be involved.
This year’s Great Conversation! event boasted leaders including UTSA President Dr. Ricardo Romo, UTSA Head Football Coach Larry Coker, prominent jewelry maker James Avery and Cathy Bodenstedt, owner of CapRock Winery (who also provided the bottles of wine given to the presenters of this year’s Academy Awards).
Many others were present to lead dinner discussions with topics including “Why Is ‘The Help’ Such a Phenomenon?” and “Feeling Cheesy: An Exploration of the Tastes and History of Cheese.”
At Sebastian Lang Lessing’s “Behind the Curtain: How do Symphonies Plan a Music Festival,” current Honors College student Jeff Cisneros candidly thanked the attendees at the table for supporting him and other students.
“I’m going to continue to support the Honors College [when I graduate] as you all have supported us, and I thank you,” Cisneros said.
Individual tickets were priced from $50 to $85, and corporate sponsors spent $1,500 to $10,000 to attend this year’s event. The money raised will be used to bankroll scholarships, study abroad programs, research stipends and other costs incurred by students in the Honors College.
The community outreach and involvement at this year’s event impacts all students who are part of the Honors College.
“Every student is eligible for a honors scholarship once admitted to the Honors College.” Cisneros said when asked about the impact of the Great Conversation! event. “As a recipient, even at my age, these events are life-changing. I think it’s amazing that people would give money for these students.”