Another Successful Year for Backstage Pass

By: Melissa Powell

In February, Women for Florida State University gathered for a behind-the-scenes look at FSU programs. The signature event, known as Backstage Pass to the Very Best of Florida State, drew a crowd of nearly 90 women, marking it one of the most well-attended installments since the event's inception.

"This year's Backstage Pass truly gave us a glimpse into the 'very best of FSU,'" W4FSU Program Planning Committee Chair Heather Mayo shared. "From public broadcasting and athletics to hospitality and engineering, we were able to see a wide variety of programs the university offers and how each is a leader in their field."

The two-day event kicked off on Friday evening with tours of the production studios at the WFSU Public Broadcasting Center. Women met and gathered in Studio A, posed for photos in front of a green screen and enjoyed hors d'oeuvres at the evening reception.

Attendees reconvened for breakfast Saturday morning to kick off a full lineup of events.

A woman standing at a podium speaking

Program Planning Committee Chair Heather Mayo

Three men demonstrating a robot

Assistant Professor Christian Hubicki with Tallahassee Cassie

Two women looking at a circuit board on a table

W4FSU member Barbara Coen prepares a circuit board

A young woman presenting to a class

Student-athletes demonstrate strength and conditioning technology

A group of women sitting around a table

Attendees enjoying a wine pairing lunch, curated by Dr. Mark Bonn

A man in a gray suit and a woman in a red dress smiling at the camera

President Thrasher and Gift of Wisdom Award Recipient Felicia M. Brunson

From Assistant Professor at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Christian Hubicki, attendees got an up-close look at Tallahassee Cassie, the college's two-legged robot, and the history behind her design. Attendees were also joined by members of FSU's Society of Women Engineers to assemble a small circuit board using copper tape and a coin cell battery.

Saturday's programming also included a series of presentations at the Coyle E. Moore Athletics Center. Various female leaders with the FSU Athletics Department explained the equipment, technology and services keeping student-athletes healthy and in top performance, including the work that goes into fueling the nearly 700 student-athletes at FSU. Attendees toured the facilities at Moore Athletics Center and were led through a team-building activity to explain the effort student-athletes apply off the field.

Everyone gathered at the University Center Club for a wine-pairing lunch, led by wine educator and Robert H. Dedman Professor of Services Management Mark Bonn. Bonn hand-selected wines to pair with each course of Saturday's lunch, enlightening attendees on the wines' origins and tasting properties.

As it does each year, the event concluded Saturday evening with a celebration of women, with this year's closing reception taking place at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts. Following cocktails, networking and dinner, attendees assembled in the Fallon Theater for remarks from FSU President John Thrasher and students enrolled in the featured programs.

As an advocate for youth, senior citizens, quality education and access to social services and affordable healthcare, the 11th annual Gift of Wisdom Award was presented to Felicia M. Brunson. Brunson has earned the reputation as a voice for the young and the young-at-heart, and recognition and celebration of Brunson capped off the event.

Perhaps what I love most about Backstage Pass is how the event reunites women under a unified love for Florida State University and its programs," Mayo added. "To me, Backstage Pass and W4FSU is a true reflection of what it means to be a part of the FSU family."