From Davis, With Love… Casino Royale 2013
At the entrance to a ballroom bursting with activity, a gentleman in a black tuxedo stands with woman in a stunning evening gown. As they take in their expansive surroundings, an usher quickly checks them in.
“And under what name did you place your reservation?” an usher asks the guests as his fingers fly over his laptop.
Without skipping a beat, the gentleman replies, “Bond… James Bond.” He laughs as his date rolls her eyes. “I’ve always wanted to say that!”
The usher grins, and hands each guest an envelope marked “Top Secret.” In it contains $50 of UC Davis casino cash to be used for the night’s entertainment, presented by the Graduate School of Management. “Good luck, Mr. Bond,” cracks the usher, as the guests step onto the casino floor.
As they enter, a cheer rings out over the chatter of conversation in the next room. Someone just hit 21 on a blackjack table, and high fives, laughter and smiles abound.
It is Saturday night in San Francisco, and Casino Royale is in full swing.
Gaming for a good cause
Just two blocks from Union Square in the heart of the city, UC Davis’ Graduate School of Management students, faculty, and alumni have come together for a night of gaming, auctions, and conversation. Each guest sparkles in their formal attire, and the stately Marines’ Memorial Hotel provides breathtaking views of downtown San Francisco. As the evening progresses, the ballroom seems to become more and more vibrant with conversation, laughter, and of course, casino chips!
UC Davis students have planned and held the Casino Royale event every year since 2007, and each year has outdone the last. All gaming proceeds throughout the night go to UC Davis GSM’s own Challenge 4 Charity club, who partners with Special Olympics, the Boys and Girls Club, and Habitat for Humanity in the Northern California region. Additionally, Casino Royale’s silent and live auctions help bring in more funds for C4C partners, and this year’s lot included a weekend getaway for two at Lake Tahoe, wine tasting with television’s The Bachelor Ben Flajnik, and tickets to the San Francisco 49ers’ last game against the Seattle Seahawks at Candlestick Park.
Planning is half the fun
At a first glance across the bustling casino floor, the idea of planning Casino Royale every year would seem to be an overwhelming task. But as any UC Davis GSM student involved behind the scenes would tell you, making it happen is a blast.
Casino Royale is primarily planned by the Associated Students of Management and Challenge 4 Charity clubs. This year over 20 students came together to help plan the year’s event. Mackenzie Guinon, ASM President and second-year MBA candidate is quick to commend everyone’s hard work and enthusiasm.
“Honestly, getting together and making this event happen is so much fun,” Mackenzie says on a brief break from networking. “The first- and second-year students are so spirited about ways to make Casino Royale even better, and we always end up with outstanding ideas to work with. Of course, it helps that we are all pursuing MBA’s – it means we know how to organize and get things done!”
Anton Mironov, Class of 2015, quickly agrees. “It’s just so cool that we get to have an event where the full-time and part-time GSM students get to meet and tell our stories,” he adds. “It really makes you aware of how diverse our school is, and all the professional experience there is at the table.” Laughing, he adds, “And it’s a great reward for the making it through midterms!”
As the night comes to a close, guests cash in their chips for chances to win still more raffle prizes. Auction winners are announced, items are claimed, and all the immaculately dressed guests migrate toward the lobby. Plans are discussed for where the conversation should continue – after all, the night is still young in San Francisco.
Over the chatter, an usher’s voice rings out. “Mr. Bond, don’t forget your jacket!”
A dozen guests turn around to respond, look at each other, and start to laugh.