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HRTM Students & Faculty Attend NSMH Conference in Orlando

Dr. Ivan Turnipseed

March 5, 2013

From Wednesday, February 20 to Sunday, February 24, 2012, an 18-person delegation from the Cheyney University Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management (HRTM) Program participated in the 24th Annual National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) Conference & Career Fair at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, Florida. The conference theme was “World of NSMH: Experience the Ride,” and the Cheyney team consisted of 15 students and three faculty members: Aaron Yancey (NSMH Cheyney Chapter President), Adrese Hicks, Christina Song (Treasurer), Christopher Brown, Cristina Jordan, Heaven Montgomery (Vice President), Jamal Morrison, Jameel Jefferson, Janee Lewin, Malika Sheppard (Historian), Mychal Evans, Samantha Grier (Publicity Chair), Sammara Harris (Social Chair), Shaun Williams (Secretary), Tyreese Oden, Professor Herbert Black, Professor Krystal Peters (Co-Advisor), and Dr. Ivan Turnipseed (Co-Advisor & HRTM Program Coordinator). 

The NSMH Conference & Career Fair was definitely a phenomenal trip for the Cheyney delegation. Although more than 1,000 people from more than 100 hospitality schools and companies from around the country attended, there was lots of positive buzz about Cheyney as the students represented themselves and our institution well.
 
CU students had a total of 20 formal interviews and received four on-the-spot full-time job offers as follows: Christina Song (Sodexo), Christopher Brown (Hilton Hotels), Jameel Jefferson (Sodexo), and Malika Sheppard (ARAMARK). Other highlights include the fact that while Aaron Yancey addressed NSMH delegates in an unsuccessful bid for National Membership Director, he was subsequently recommended and invited to interview for the open position of National Public Relations Director. In addition, Dr. Turnipseed, who served as National Finance Director when he was a student, was appointed the Philadelphia City Network Leader for NSMH’s alumni organization, HIPE—the Hospitality Industry Professional Extension.
 
The NSMH National Conference is all about assisting hospitality students in making the transition from “Today’s Students to Tomorrow’s Leaders.” Highlights for the Cheyney delegation included an exclusive Thursday morning information session and tour of the Darden Restaurant Support Center (corporate headquarters) led by Donnie Boatwright, a 31-year veteran of the company. The Darden family of 2,000+ restaurants features some of the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining: Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s, and Yard House. The Darden corporate headquarters tour showcased their sprawling and airy state-of-the art, LEED Gold certified campus and guided us through such areas as their on-site wellness and fitness centers, the complimentary hot and cold beverage and snack bars plus the Darden Café, their subsidized on-site dining facility; the company store and on-site dry cleaning service; and the ½-mile outdoor walking trail where we saw a huge, gray egret and even an alligator sunning in the distance!  Another highlight was a three and ½-hour information session and tours of the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort and the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Resort presented by Loews Hotels. The Cheyney NSMH delegation joined students from New Mexico State University and Northen Arizona University for this adventure. From the Graceland Suite at the Hard Rock (with its indulgent and colourful furnishings featuring a 65” flat panel TV and a baby grand piano in the living area plus a glass-encased, double-sided fireplace separating the master bedroom and bath with a giant Whirlpool tub) to the water taxi ride to the hearty lunch and tour at the tropical-themed Royal Pacific and the panel of high-level executives at both properties, this was an awesome and educational adventure.
 
One of the most rousing aspects of the conference was the opening session which featured a roll call with pre-planned school and regional chants, some Gangnam Style dancing, an introduction to the NSMH national leadership team, and an overview of the conference. 
 
And while social events like the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night “Fire & Ice Party,” “Tropical Paradise: Official NSMH Luau,” and “90s House Party,” respectively were certainly fun, our students were especially impressed by the level of high-quality interaction that was available during the Friday evening, industry-sponsored Networking Suite Receptions and the Saturday Career Fair/Interviews. Workshop choices included “Graduate School…The Ride of a Lifetime;” “Women in Hospitality;” “Social Responsibility: Giving Back Matters;” “Hilton Worldwide: Amazing Interviewing in a Digital World;” “Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts: My First Two Years After School: Setting the Foundation of My Legacy;” “Sodexo: Generations in the Workplace,” and “Contract Services: A World of Opportunities for You!” 
 
The NSMH National Conference provided unlimited opportunities for networking, growth, and development.  By providing advice on a series of topics ranging from interviewing skills to the different careers in hospitality, organization sponsors divulged the secrets to success in this highly competitive industry. Furthermore, Cheyney HRTM students had the opportunity to meet and interview with industry sponsors one-on-one in NSMH networking suites and at the career fair.