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Honors Gala: Banquet & Ball

Open Doors: Expect the Unexpected

It turned out to be a great night! Over 200 guests joined us this year for the annual Honors Gala: Banquet and Ball! The event featured a gourmet dinner, inspiring keynote speaker, recognition of Honors scholarship recipients, and a live DJ and dance performance; it was a night to remember!

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Renata Forste
Our Honors alumnus keynote speaker this year is Dr. Renata Forste. Dr. Forste serves as the BYU International Vice President and as a member of the President’s Council. In this role she oversees Continuing Education, Performing Arts Management, and the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies. Dr. Forste completed her undergraduate degree in sociology at Brigham Young University in 1984, graduating with University Honors and representing her class that year as the graduation speaker. Dr. Forste completed a master’s degree in sociology at BYU (1986), before earning her PhD in sociology with emphases in demography and statistics from the University of Chicago in 1992.

She taught at Western Washington University before joining the sociology faculty at Brigham Young University in 1995. She has served as an associate dean in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, as well as department chair of the Sociology Department, and most recently as the Director of the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and Associate International Vice President. Her research has focused on maternal and child health, as well as patterns of family formation, primarily in Latin America. She has mentored several Honors theses and was instrumental in the creation of the Global Women’s Studies program at BYU. Most recently she taught courses on world population issues, as well as introduction to global women’s studies.

Dr. Forste served a mission in Argentina and has traveled to many parts of the globe as a student, faculty director, and researcher. She is married to Michael Forste and they are the parents of three daughters, and grandparents to three lively grandchildren. We are excited to welcome this Honors alumnus back and look forward to hearing what unexpected things she’s discovered as she has opened doors throughout her career.

Dinner and Menu
While attendees are privileged to hear from our illustrious keynote speaker, they will also be enjoying gourmet fare. Students and faculty will be seated around elegant tables. “It’s going to be at the Hinckley Center—it’s really big, really open,” said Diana Gonzales, HSLC president. The venue is an appropriate choice for Honors students to enjoy fancy dining, dress, and the address from Dr. Forste.

Past attendees look forward to the quality meal that will be served at the gala. “The food was so delicious and it was cooked so well. It was one of my favorite parts of the banquet and ball,” Alexandra Jones says of last year’s dinner. The Honors banquet features the following menu:

  • Hickory Porter Chicken with Vanilla-Orange Maple Glaze
  • Grilled Herbed Tri-Tip Beef


  • Steamed Asparagus
  • Smashed Red Potatoes
  • Garden Salad
  • Fruit & Berries


  • New York Cheesecake with Raspberry sauce
  • German Chocolate Cake

DJ, Dancing, and Dressing Up
The fun doesn’t end there! After dinner and the keynote address, Honors students will have the chance to strut their stuff during the ball. “This is a great time to bring out your prom dress from high school,” Diana said. “It’s pretty formal so this is the event you get to dress up for this year!” Chairs and tables are pushed to the side to make room for a beautiful ballroom dance floor. Bring a date or friends and dance along to music presented by a live DJ.

Don’t know how to dance? We’ve got you covered. Instructors from the dance department are coming to showcase a fantastic performance, and afterward they’ll be offering instruction on some of the basic steps. You might get to learn some new skills! Last year, Alexandra loved “learning how to ballroom dance—and being able to actually dance properly with my partner.”

Community of Scholars
Don’t miss this once-a-year gala, which Diana described as one of the “crowned events” of the Honors program. “It’s an opportunity for Honors students to dress up, bring a date or bring a friend, and just come enjoy food. We have so much fun!”

“With $12 you get a great meal, interesting speaker, and just get to have a really fun time dancing!” Diana says. Bring your friends, make a date out of it, or come solo and have a fun night with the Honors community! See you there!