TxWes students are educated in etiquette

Salt and pepper should always be passed together. Michelle Donatto suggests you think of them as a married couple. (Bebhinn Tankard)

Career Services hosted a student leader etiquette dinner in the Martin Center on Thursday, April 7, giving students a chance to practice their networking skills and learn how to successfully navigate a business dinner.

The event was sponsored by Geico, Fastenal, Cognizant and Con-Real and was attended by representatives from these businesses and other organizations. Students had a chance to talk to representatives and each other over mocktails before moving into the Andrews Ballroom for a presentation on how to eat their meal.

Michelle Donatto is the founder of the Southern Etiquette Society (Photo courtesy Michelle Donatto)

Michelle Donatto, the guest presenter and founder of the Southern Etiquette Society, had an early start in etiquette. “My grandmother was very particular. My father was in the military, so his rules were very strict, and he always made sure the table was set a certain way. So for me, [etiquette] was just learned, but then I realized that this is something that can be taught,” she said.

Donatto advised students on the correct cutlery to use, how to position napkins, the proper way to butter bread rolls and the right gifts to bring to a host, among many other tips and tricks to polite dining.

Cheyenne Jacquot, a fourth year finance major, felt that she’d learned a lot from the event.
“I grew up with one fork, one spoon, one knife and a plate, and half the time it was plastic, so I didn’t know anything,” she laughed. “Meeting [Chelsea Mason from Fastenal] has also been very beneficial,” Jacquot continued. “[Mason] gave everybody a little bit more of an in-depth explanation of what to expect and how to present themselves.”

“I was pretty comfortable with business meals and networking before, as I had to do it quite a bit during high school,” said Bailey O’Donnell, second year political science and English major
“But I did learn about how to eat soup!”

Spots for the event were filled, and students enjoyed a free three-course meal. (Bebhinn Tankard)

Donatto told students to push the soup away from them and to fill their spoon only about two-thirds full, and never to sip it or blow on it to cool it down.

Victoria Al-Adam, third year political science major, agreed: “I also want to work on the soup! And stirring tea!” (The correct way to add sugar to iced tea is to move the spoon back and forth, rather than stirring around and around). Al-Adam would definitely attend another similar event if it was held on campus, a sentiment that many of the attendees shared.

For more on the Southern Etiquette Society, you can follow Michelle Donatto on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. For more on-campus events, check out RamSpace.


Students networked over mocktails with representatives from a number of organizations.