In early January, I took a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada to join with eleven of our Hospitality Management and Dietetics (HMD) students from our CHHS Department of Family & Consumer Sciences as they embarked upon a Study Away trip to the city that never sleeps! Over the course of a week, the students were able to see the many layers of the ever-expanding hospitality industry, and I was glad to be a part of seeing students engage thru this experiential learning opportunity!
The trip, orchestrated by WKU HMD Instructor, Ms. Ann Embry, provided the students with insight of what it takes to be successful in business. With a schedule that allowed the students to meet the CEO’s of hotels, and popular resorts, to the leadership that operated the large laundry magnet for the city, it was an eye-opening experience for all.
From my perspective, this trip provided (students) insight into what it takes to be successful in business,” said Embry, “The drive, the passion, the ethics, were all displayed by people who hosted our group. It was an amazing inside look at how companies operate and how you as a leader are dependent on those around you.
I was glad to see a common theme, projected thru the industry leaders to our students on this trip; hiring the right people to perform the jobs needed, and providing them with the proper training, is key in developing and growing a successful business.
In a sense, the WKU CHHS follows this model; to find the students that best fit our programs, and equip them with the tools for success upon graduation. This Study Away experience is one of the tools used to provide our students with a real-world experience, or as I am a proponent of, an experiential learning experience. Giving our HMD students access to industry leaders as well as access to facilities in a hospitality-rich city, allows our students to see new career opportunities, and a chance to form new relationships and connections that will assist them in their career paths.
This trip could not have taken place without the generosity of one of our very own WKU alum, and respected restaurateur, Mr. Joe Micatrotto, Jr.. His company, MGR Marketing and Management, is the parent company for the Raising Cane’s Chicken franchise, which has several restaurants located throughout Nevada and Arizona. Mr. Micatrotto, Jr. welcomed our group into his home and assisted in giving us access to many other industry leaders in Las Vegas. The students were very impressed with his background and found inspiration in his story of success. I am pleased to announce that Joe was recently elected to a term on the WKU Alumni Association Board of Directors. He will be a great voice on this Board!
One of our own alumni who has been so successful yet so humble and loves everything about his job,” said WKU HMD major Sydney A. Cordes. “To me, that was one of the most eye opening parts of the trip. Someone from a small city of Bowling Green can make it big in an even bigger city of Las Vegas. (Opportunity) allowed me to see that with enough hard work, dedication, and perseverance, I can do whatever I set my mind to.
I was honored to be a part of this trip. The exposure and knowledge imparted from these successful leaders to our students was spectacular. This experience has already opened doors and opportunities for our students. The future is very bright indeed.