Presidential Leaders and University Scholars
By Brittney Payette
At 6:30 p.m. on April 11 in the McCasland Ballroom in the McMahon Centennial Complex, the Presidental Leaders and Univeristy Scholars (PLUS) advisors held a banquet in honor of the 2023 PLUS graduates.
The event began with President John McArthur welcoming all of the attendees to the banquet.
“You’ve had a very interesting time period at Cameron,” McArthur said. “I hope, at some point, you’re going to be able to look back at some of this and smile and laugh.”
McArthur said he is grateful for all of the leadership students here at Cameron.
“You helped us get through some difficult times with the pandemic and some other items on campus,” he said. “I really couldn’t ask for more of you, and I couldn’t have asked for better people to go through a tough period with.”
McArthur said he was also grateful that the parents and family members shared their students with Cameron.
“The students you send our way, your family members, that’s what makes this place special,” he said.
Senior Journalism and Media Production major Breanna Pursley said the PLUS program helped her throughout her collegiate journey to learn about success and leadership to prepare her for life after college.
“PLUS has benefited me in so many ways,” Pursley said. “Mainly in my leadership skills. I’ve had several opportunities to work with… freshman, work with my peers on projects and really just grow myself.”
Pursley said some of the significant skills that PLUS taught her were how to prepare for job interviews, how to network and how to open up to other people.
“My favorite PLUS memory would have to be volunteering to be a mentor at the freshmen retreat we had back in August,” she said. “It took months of planning, and it was really nice to see it all come together and be really successful in the end.”
Pursley said she thought the PLUS banquet went really well, and she was happy to see how many students had family members present, including her own. Moreover, she said the banquet was another excellent opportunity to network. Pursley said getting to graduate is a huge honor, especially since she is a first-generation college student.
“For me, it’s crazy to believe that four years (have) gone by so fast,” she said. “I’ve gained so much out of it, and it… kind of feels foreign to me to be graduating because it’s become something really cherished to me, and it’s going to continue being very cherished to me in my memories.”
Director of Alumni Relations and PLUS advisor Jonna Turner gave a speech at the banquet.
“This group of young adults is exceptional,” Turner said. “Not only do they excel academically and as campus and community leaders, they’re just genuinely enjoyable people to be around.”
Turner then called each PLUS graduate up to receive their PLUS stole for graduation and take a picture with President McArthur.
Each of the graduates had a slide with a picture of them on it, their degree, future plans, favorite PLUS memory, most impactful service project, and what they will take away from the PLUS program. This information was collected before the event.
Turner said she wants to challenge the PLUS graduates to continue to work hard, but also to remember that success looks different for everyone.
“I’m going to challenge you to go and do your next big thing and remember why we had you do all these crazy PLUS requirements,” she said.
Turner said, as the Director of Alumni Relations, she has the privilege of getting to see how the PLUS program graduates succeed after getting their degrees from Cameron. She ended her speech with some advice for the graduates.
“Join all the boards and organizations,” Turner said. “Build your community and network. Find your people. Find your mentor that you trust and… show up for the job, show up ready to lead.”
For more information about the program, go to the webpage on the Cameron website at https://www.cameron.edu/plus.