Cheyney Grads Headed to Good Paying Jobs in HRTM Field following Commencement
May 13, 2017
Tyneesah Davenport (left) is headed to Tennessee State University as a Food Service Manager. Leonard Brown (right) will work for Kellogg’s as a Sales Representative.
Attending college, graduating within four years, and exiting Cheyney University’s historic quadrangle to assume full-time, competitive positions were merely dreams for Cheyney seniors Leonard Brown and Tyneesah Davenport. However, following their graduation today, that scenario is the real deal for the new alumni.
Though Brown and Davenport share the commonality of being Philadelphia, PA natives and students in the university’s Hospitality, Restaurant, and Tourism Management (HRTM) program, led by Associate Professor and Department Chair, Dr. Ivan Turnipseed, the pair have navigated separate, yet thriving, paths while Cheyney students.
Davenport, a Communications major, HRTM minor, TRiO Scholar, and Senior Class President, credits mentor Rasheeda King, her high school Academic Coach at Universal Audenried Charter High School, as her earliest motivator to attend college.
“[It] wasn’t until the end of my junior year [of high school] that I met Ms. King and she inspired me to want to be better. She grabbed onto me, held me, and hasn’t let go since,” said Davenport. “She’s the reason why I came to school and got through these four years. I center my thanks around her.”
Brown selected Cheyney after securing a spot in the university’s distinguished Keystone Honors Academy (KHA), which offers full-scholarships (covering tuition, fees, room, board and books) to high-achieving undergraduate students. He went on to declare a major in Business Administration and minor in HRTM.
“Once I got here, I realized that Cheyney was a place where I could make my mark. I identified that I could find myself at Cheyney versus losing myself somewhere else,” shared Brown.
And, indeed, Brown found himself. Likewise, he has taken advantage of every opportunity afforded to both KHA students and the collective student body, and has spearheaded leadership projects of his own including, The Good Neighbors Initiative, in which students joined forces to accomplish positive change in the community.
“Keystone is honestly what molded me here during my time at Cheyney,” Brown acknowledged, “Just being challenged by my peers, and all of the access to the opportunities.”
The scholar took advantage of every opportunity that he could find. He was competitively selected for a fully-funded study abroad program, in which he traveled to Norway for two weeks to study leadership, peace and environmental sustainability. In addition, he has completed seven internships and participated in various honors conferences as both an attendee and a speaker.
“I’ve accessed opportunities that were exclusively for minority students and I’ve been a part of programs where I was one of two black kids out of 28-30 participants,” Brown noted. “[It] doesn’t mean that you can’t compete. I’ve competed with everyone I’ve been in the room with.”
Davenport also immersed herself in all that Cheyney offered. Beginning as a student ambassador, she went on to join the TRiO Scholars program, held the title of Ms. Sophomore, and served as the President of the campus organization, The Sisterhood, both her junior and senior years. In her private life, however, she experienced tremendous difficulties.
“[At] the end of freshman year, I became homeless and an independent student. My mother and I separated, my family and I had fallen out completely, and I had to grow up sooner than I thought. At the age of 18, I was already 21. I was doing things that adults did,” said Davenport.
Nevertheless, she persisted and credits Cheyney for providing her knowledge that extends well beyond the text. “Cheyney has taught me, strength--true strength (and) the ability to still smile in spite of hardships and disappointments.”
Following graduation, Davenport is headed to the campus of Tennessee State University, in Nashville, Tennessee where she has accepted a role as a Food Service Manager contracted via food service giant, Aramark. She originally interviewed for the position in February while at the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality conference and career fair, in Jacksonville, FL alongside fellow HRTM students from around the nation.
While at the conference, Davenport was the first person to score an on-the-spot interview with the Aramark recruiting manager. “The recruiting manager told me I would hear back in 3-5 days. Five days came and I still didn’t hear from her, so I said, well, I guess she’s not going to hire me,” Davenport recalled.
On the sixth day, she received a phone call with an offer for the position. Davenport believes this was nothing but a Godsend. “This is my life. This is my new start. I prayed and I felt like God was saying this is where I’m leading you to. Now take my hand and go,” she said.
Brown will also jet set into his career as a Sales Representative with food manufacturer, the Kellogg Company. He is no stranger to Kellogg’s, as he was a former sales consulting intern with Kellogg’s. In his new role, Brown will assume business-to-business sales with affiliate, Walmart, and oversee 20 stores within the DMV region. He also gets a company car.
It is safe to say that both Brown and Davenport have proven that their degrees from Cheyney University are more than just a piece of paper. Their experiences at the nation’s first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) have molded them into the young professionals that they are today. While they intend to make a name for themselves, they also intend to make a difference, and stay true to their alma mater.