“Dining with Dr. Gates” by Jordan Frazier

From eating lunch at Wheatley Cafe one meal to dining at the exclusive Duquesne Club for another, I was blessed with a once in a lifetime opportunity, eating dinner with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, courtesy of the Honors Program.  Stepping into the Duquesne Club, I could practically smell the wealth in the atmosphere.  The atmosphere reflected the prominence of the man I was about to meet.

Dr. Robert Gates made a lifetime career serving in the CIA and National Security Council, working his way up under all of the presidential administrations since Lyndon Johnson.  He reached the peak of his career as Director of Central Intelligence in 1987, and later, Secretary of Defense in 2006.  With pages of achievements and accomplishments, I expected him to be utterly overwhelming when I finally got to shake his hand, but he was very down-to-earth and casual in manner.  He was actually very short compared to what I imagined.  This didn’t take away from his presence when everyone started asking him questions around the dinner table.  As a career public servant, he seemed to know exactly what to say about everything.

The dinner itself was absolutely excellent.  There were so many pieces of silverware and dishware in front of me that I need a quick dinner etiquette lesson from fellow Honors student, Katie Connell.  The people I dined with were more than just ordinary people; they were some of the most influential people in Pittsburgh.  Directly to my left, Larry Richard from KDKA studied furiously through his notes, preparing for the introduction of Robert Gates at Heinz Hall.  He gave me a quick lesson in public speaking once we started talking.  The rest of the room was filled with public figures and important business entrepreneurs in the Pittsburgh area.  Luckily for me, I got to meet them all!

I left Heinz Hall after Gate’s talk dumfounded by my experience in the past six hours.  I got a free meal, an excuse to dress up, and an invitation to meet the man widely considered the best Secretaries of Defense in the post-WWII era.Image

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“My Dinner with Robert Gates” by Katie Connell

Recently I was blessed with the opportunity for an amazing dinner at the Duquesne Club. Dinner consisted of drinks beforehand, multiple courses, and the best crème brulee desert I’ve ever had. Oh yeah, and the former Secretary of Defense in attendance answering any questions we asked. It was an amazing experience not only to be able to dine with Dr. Robert Gates, but to also listen to his speech afterward at Heinz Hall. He spoke the entire dinner, answering all of our questions and giving great detail to each answer. Dr. Gates has numerous achievements, from being the president of Texas A&M University to being the president-elect of the Boy Scouts of America. His most defining attribute is being the first Secretary of Defense to serve under two presidents of different parties. His words on the war in Iraq shed new light on the situation and the decisions made. After his speech, I was able to meet with him and his chief of staff once again. I was fortunate to have a personal conversation with his chief of staff. During this conversation, the topic of veterans came up and my thesis (the reintegration of veterans on college campuses) was then discussed. The chief of staff even offered me further contact information to help assist me in gathering further information for my thesis. Thank you, Robert Morris University and the Honors Program for this incredible opportunity. Image

Undergraduate Research Day

RMU will be sending two students to Harrisburg PA on March 11, 2014 to present posters on research conducted at RMU. If you have completed a research project as part of a class, thesis, or work study and are interested in presenting your research to state legislators, please fill out the application form (https://secure.jotformpro.com/form/40146630301944) by Monday, January 27, 2014.

More information about the Undergraduate Research Day can be found at http://www.pasen.gov/URCPA/index.htm.

Please note that this event is different from the Undergraduate Research Conference hosted by the honors programs of RMU and CalU, which will be held at RMU on April 25, 2014. More information about our conference will be sent out soon.