Class of 2018 celebrates Toast with T. Haas

GVL / Emily Frye 
President Thomas Haas leads the annual toast at the Toast with T. Haas event on Wednesday April 18, 2018.

GVL / Emily Frye President Thomas Haas leads the annual toast at the Toast with T. Haas event on Wednesday April 18, 2018.

Rachel Matuszewski

Grand Valley State University’s class of 2018 piled into the Richard M. DeVos Center on Wednesday, April 18, for the annual Toast with T. Haas celebration. Seniors celebrated their pending graduation by toasting with GVSU President Thomas Haas and catching up with friends. The Laker for a Lifetime program has been hosting the event since 2013.

“I think it’s special because it’s their last celebration as students,” said Megan Ellinger, head of Laker for a Lifetime.

Student senate president Jonathan Bowman spoke to students about their final days at GVSU and introduced Haas. 

“Toast (with) T. Haas is an annual tradition, and it’s fantastic to be able to do this with President Haas for one of the last (times) he will (speak) as president,” Bowman said.

Haas’ speech congratulated multiple professions within the university and invited graduating seniors to become GVSU alumni and Lakers for a Lifetime. Haas encouraged students on the brink of becoming alumni to promote GVSU in their careers and represent their alma mater well. He also acknowledged each individual as an extension of his own family. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, to the future doctors, lawyers and business people,” Haas said. “To the politicians and the poets, to academics and to athletes. To our brave servicemen and dedicated educators. To our never-ending dedication to one another, to hope and to strength. To surpass expectations, to success. To you. To those that are with us, steadfast and true. To the black, white and blue, and to the finest class, the grand class of 2018.” 

Seniors enjoyed the dessert bar, non-alcoholic drinks and champagne for the toast. Raffle prizes were also awarded to students. The recipients were given prizes that included tickets to GVSU Night at Comerica Park to see a Detroit Tigers game on July 31. Students also stood in line for their last selfie with the president.

“He really has a celebrity status on campus, so it’s a great opportunity for them to have one last hoorah with him,” Ellinger said. “He’s so personable, and he’s willing to stand and take hundreds of selfies in one night. He’s the kind of guy who genuinely wants to know the students.”

With so many seniors celebrating their graduation, some students near the end of the line were not given a champagne flute with which to toast. To accomodate these students, an announcement was made that graduating seniors who had not received a commemorative glass could email [email protected] to receive one. 

“It’s really exciting to be graduating; it’s (been) a long time coming,” said GVSU student Sara Barber. “I thought the event could have been organized a little better. We waited outside forever, and then they ran out of champagne and wine glasses.” 

However, students also enjoyed the celebration. 

“I thought it was a cool way to celebrate the four years and hard work we’ve put in,” said GVSU senior Lauren Blatnik.