Photo booth

It’s not unusual to see a white coat on the Salus University campus. After all, the school presents students with white coats as tangible proof that they have truly begun their professional journey.

But it was unusual to see a white coat – and a fancy one at that – at the annual Salus Soiree Nov. 15 at The Logan hotel and event center in Philadelphia.

So when Jamie Knabel ‘21OT, walked in with her date, Jon McLaughlin, rocking a white tuxedo jacket that was every bit as cool as the one Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart was wearing in the classic 1942 film “Casablanca,” it didn’t go unnoticed in the sea of nattily dressed students in attendance.

“He goes to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, so when we went to his school’s formal, we decided to go shopping for the best jacket, and this was the best one,” said Knabel, who said that she and McLaughlin had been dating for more than six years. “It caught my eye. He looks so handsome.”

For his part, McLaughlin said he was down with the formal white coat look. “If she likes it, I’ll wear it,” said McLaughlin. “I think it looks good and I feel great. Anything for Jamie. I’m just complementing her look. She’s the star of the show.”

Smooth. Just like Bogart would have handled it.

The annual Salus Soiree, affectionately referred to as “Grad School Prom” by this year’s Campus Activities Committee, attracted nearly 200 students to the upscale affair. Students were transported to downtown Philadelphia from the Elkins Park, Pa. campus by four school buses, including one late bus which accommodated the Optometry Class of 2022 students who had a Friday evening exam. The busses provided safe passage for students who wanted to blow off a little steam and enjoy the evening’s festivities without having to worry about transportation.

In past years, the Salus Soiree has been centered around a theme. In 2017, the theme was “Through the Looking Glass,” inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic novel “Alice in Wonderland.” The 2016 event was masquerade-themed and featured students in masks.

But this year, the committee chose not to have a theme.

“We decided to go with a more elegant black and gold and red feel instead of doing a whole theme because we thought that would be easier to incorporate into the venue and the decorations in a way that was more simple and sophisticated,” said Danielle Hayden ‘21AUD, vice president of Student Council. “It kind of made things a little less stressful on the committee, too, because the majority of the committee members are third-year students, so we’re in heavy clinical and heavy classwork and we wanted to have more focus on our academics while also trying to plan this.”

The chic venue also offered a farm to table menu, made everything in-house with nothing processed ahead of time, and was able to accommodate students with dietary restrictions and allergies, all of which appealed to the committee when selecting the location for the soiree.

One of the main benefits of the soiree is a chance for the students to take a break from the academic rigors and have an evening filled with fun and frivolity.

“It’s very important for mental health to get out of the classroom, and for everybody to enjoy themselves, especially with finals coming,” said Payton Burke ‘21AUD, Student Council  president. “It’s a very stressful time and this is important for the emotional health of every Salus student.”

“It’s a fun way to get off campus and get yourself out of the books,” added Hayden.
In addition to a DJ and a filled dance floor, the evening featured good food, including three different types of gourmet mac and cheese, a quesadilla bar, desserts and an array of beverages. Students could have their pictures taken at a photo booth station and handeda print for everyone in the photo in a matter of minutes to help commemorate the event.

In addition to getting the students off campus for a night out, the event is also designed to get students from all of the programs to meet, mix and mingle.

“There are a lot of ODs, a lot of AUDs, a lot of PAs and a lot of OTs at this event,” said Hayden, who added that the committee had been planning the event for months. “Our goal is to get all the programs mixing together.”

Luke Obenrader ‘23AUD, was attending his first Salus Soiree. And, he was having a good time.

“This is way above my expectations,” he said. “It’s important because when you’re caught up in the studies, it almost fries your brain. But this is a great time to just recover and to remember that it’s not just about the studies. It’s about being social, too.”