Cheyney Students Walk Away from 2017 National Hospitality Conference with Jobs and Internships

March 3, 2017

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Cheyney University HRTM majors and minors pose with Dr. Ivan Turnipseed (seated center), Cheyney's NSMH Chapter Advisor & HRTM Coordinator and Professor Herbert Black (standing 2nd from r) following a formal gala

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A 29-person delegation from Cheyney University’s Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management (HRTM) Program is just back from the 28th Annual National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) Conference & Career Fair, held February 22 – 26 in Jacksonville, FL. The conference theme, “Planting Seeds for Growth”, was certainly appropriate as, once again, numerous Cheyney students walked away from the conference with paying jobs or internships.

“The NSMH Conference & Career Fair was a phenomenal experience for the entire Cheyney delegation,” shared  Dr. Ivan Turnipseed, Cheyney's NSMH Advisor & HRTM Program Coordinator. “Although well over 1,000 people were in attendance, there was lots of positive buzz about Cheyney as the students represented themselves and our institution very well and ours was among the larger delegations in attendance.”

One of more than 90 active chapters for 2016-2017, Cheyney’s NSMH chapter was nominated for the PR-Star Award, which honors the chapter that is most active in the area of social media. Yaeko Breech and Corey England served as Cheyney’s two delegates to vote in the annual NSMH election and on other NSMH business matters on behalf of the chapter. In addition, Cheyney Student Government Association President Sharell Reddin was re-elected as National Treasurer of NSMH. The treasurer is one of a handful of executive positions on the 17-member, student-run national board. Also while there, Dr. Turnipseed and Professor Herbert Black, Cheyney's NSMH Co-Advisor, participated in a semi-annual meeting of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) Hospitality Management Consortium, which Dr. Turnipseed chaired as the current President.

“As a national board member for the NSMH conference,” Reddin stated, “this experience was a 10. It felt amazing organizing a conference to allow minority students to gain access to first-rate hospitality career opportunities." 

Between the Friday evening Networking Suites and Saturday Career Fair, Cheyney HRTM students garnered nearly 40 formal interviews with companies such as Aramark, Cracker Barrel, Drury Hotels, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Jason’s Deli, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Marriott International, MGM Resorts International, OTG Management, PSAV, Sodexo, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. While many students still have follow-up interviews or are waiting to find out whether they will be selected for various opportunities, 10 Cheyney students have already received summer internships or professional post-graduate offers.

England, a freshman HRTM major, will intern with Sodexo in Phoenix, AZ over summer break, while Junior HRTM major Starr Tate secured a unique opportunity to participate with Hilton Worldwide’s Latin America Program. Jamere Lawrence, a senior Business Administration major and HRTM minor is ecstatic to have received a generous salary and benefits package to begin his career with Hilton Worldwide’s Management Development Program in Columbus, OH after he graduates in May. Mark Taylor, a first semester senior, will do a summer internship with Sodexo at Campbell Soup in Camden, NJ, while Junior Business Administration majors and HRTM minors Rashawn Francis and William Sorrell both have two summer offers that they’re weighing. Francis has to decide between Sodexo and La Quinta Inns & Suites, while Sorrell’s choices are Jason’s Deli and OTG Management.

The company making the biggest moves for Cheyney grads is Philadelphia-based Aramark, which has offered four graduating Cheyney seniors full-time jobs upon graduation in May. HRTM major Cierra Collins has been offered a Food Service Manager position at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA, HRTM major DeWhitt Jones has been offered a Facilities Manager role at Evanston Hospital in the greater Chicago, IL area, Business Administration major and HRTM minor Quiyiim Saunders has been offered a Facilities Manager position at Florida International University in Miami, FL, and Communications major and HRTM minor Tyneesah Davenport has been offered a Food Service Manager job at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN.

Junior HRTM Major Siani James encourages all HRTM students to make going to the annual conference a priority. “It is a life-changing experience and you won’t leave disappointed. This conference places students in front of A-list recruiters and provides many job opportunities for students in hospitality management.”

While each of the student participants contributed $135 to cover local and national dues and help offset the per-person trip cost of more than $900, four key organizations helped make the trip possible. The Cheyney Foundation generously provided funding for the group’s round-trip transportation and conference registration, long-time supporter Hyatt Hotels & Resorts covered the full cost of the four-night hotel accommodations, PHL Diversity—a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau—sponsored all onsite non-conference meals, and Sodexo made a general contribution to support Cheyney’s attendance in Jacksonville.

“Sponsors, thank you so much for making this possible for our students,” remarked Saunders. “We are all very thankful. For me, personally, being able to attend a conference of this caliber and only having to put down $100 is an absolute blessing!”

“The NSMH National Conference & Career Fair provided tremendous opportunities for networking, growth, and development,” said Turnipseed. “This multi-day event featured workshops that incorporated panelist-led discussions focused on preparing students to succeed in the world of hospitality. Industry professionals shared rich insight and provided advice on a series of topics ranging from interviewing and resume skills to the different careers and types of people in hospitality.”

Aside from the professional development aspect of the conference, Cheyney HRTM students enhanced their social development by mingling with over 1,000 students, staff, faculty, and industry professionals from more than 100 hospitality entities around the country. From the opening session to the closing awards gala, Cheyney HRTM students were afforded the opportunity to advance as young professionals in the hospitality industry while simultaneously building and maintaining relationships and friendships that may last a lifetime.

Those from Cheyney who attended the conference were Abdul Jenkins, Autumn Young, Collins (Chapter President), England (Voting Delegate), DeWhitt Jones, Ebonee Weathers, Jae’Chelle Wilson (Chapter Treasurer), Jamere Lawrence, Katya Richie, Lakeisha Lewis, Lawrence Snyder, Mark Taylor, Monae Williams, Nahlah Samir, Saunders, Rashawn Francis, Reddin, Siani James, Spencer Thomas, Starr Butler-Tate, T’Neyah Bryant (Chapter Vice President), Tyneesah Davenport, Wesley Thorn, William Sorrell, Winkenia Correa-Merejildo, Breech, Zairah McDonald, Black and Turnipseed.

Cheyney's HRTM Program is recognized as one of the 50 most affordable small colleges for Hospitality Administration. Students get a cutting edge experiential education that boosts their industry knowledge, hones their decision-making and critical thinking skills, prepares them for entry-level managerial success, provides critical partnerships with leading industry organizations, managerial simulations, and opportunities to attend regional and national conferences.