High School Students Experience Slice of Life as Hospitality Majors


“Where do you want to work? We travel all over the world with our hotel program and our travel-tourism program. We pick a location and go there for a week to study … we’ve been to Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Singapore, Egypt.”

Leading with that question, Dean Paul McVety ’09, Ed.D., College of Hospitality Management (COHM), welcomed a group of high school students and their parents visiting JWU from 6 different states. They came for Hospitality Experience Day because they are interested in JWU’s hospitality programs.

“Our goal is to make you successful, give you a four-year platform in hospitality management, a solid education and a great experience.”

“Our goal is to make you successful, give you a four-year platform in hospitality management, a solid education and a great experience,” said McVety. He added that every COHM academic program includes an internship and free electives that students can use for a second internship, a study abroad program, or to take classes that pique their interest.


Although hospitality is a massive industry, McVety told students they have the opportunity to explore all facets at JWU — hotel management, travel and tourism, food and beverage, and sports, entertainment and event management. “Students come in with one goal, but sometimes, when they find out about other areas of the industry, they become more interested in those — they would rather go into hotels, or work for a boutique event planning organization. It’s all right to explore, to change your mind, to find out what really interests you. If you want to work in a restaurant, do an internship at a restaurant. Find out what it’s all about.”

Hospitality students also take business courses, said McVety, because “in any area of hospitality, you need to know about management, operations and how to become a leader within the organization.”


After McVety’s introduction to JWU’s hospitality programs, students and parents split into groups for interactive discussions with 3 different faculty, including a real taste of hospitality in the college’s beverage lab.

“By walking out of here with degrees in hospitality or tourism, it’s important for you to have some type of international experience.”

Food & Beverage and Travel & Tourism
Michael Sabitoni, associate professor and department chair for both International Travel/Tourism Studies and Food & Beverage Management, gave students and parents an overview of both of those areas and how they overlap. As examples, he referred to recent FAM (familiarization) trips taken by Tourism & Hospitality Management classes to locations including Argentina and Buenos Aires, Ecuador and India. Students create and carry out the itinerary for FAM trips and are exposed to cultures, cuisine and people from around the world. “By walking out of here with degrees in hospitality or tourism, it’s important for you to have some type of international experience,” said Sabtoni.


Focusing in on beverages, Sabitoni introduced sensory perception and flavor profiles through an actual tea tasting. He explained the 3 steps involved:

  • visual examination to identify color and clarity
  • smelling the tea to determine if it’s fruity, floral or spicy
  • tasting the tea by sipping, holding it in your mouth, and swishing it around to detect the texture, weight and body

Using 3 different brewed teas, he asked for the group’s input as they looked closely at the tea-filled tasting glasses, smelled each one thoroughly and tasted each fully. Their feedback, paired with Sabitoni’s expertise, led to the teas’ identities: spearmint and peppermint; apple, cinnamon, spice and hibiscus; and lemon, ginger and Hibernia.


Hotel Management
“When you travel, you have to stay somewhere, right? Hotel and resorts — that’s where I come in,” said Associate Professor Leslie Kosky, “and there is a multitude of choices.” She showed the students and parents slides of unique hotels and resorts around the world, quizzing them about each one.

“Here’s an example of a ‘cool hotel’ — did you get that — ‘cool hotel’? Where is this Ice Hotel? In Alaska, Chicago, Quebec or Russia?” Quebec was correct, and Kosky pointed out that there was a class of JWU students in Quebec that same day who had visited the Ice Hotel during their trip. She showed examples of other unconventional hotels and resorts, including a grand, luxury hotel housed in a former prison, a rustic hotel created within a cave, and a treetop hotel built into the landscape. The hotel quiz led to a lively discussion among Kosky and the group about their own travel and hotel experiences.


Kosky also talked about how difficult it can be to choose a specific area of hospitality to work in with so many options available. “When people say ‘what do you want to do’… it’s very difficult to figure that out sometimes. But, hospitality is a huge industry. You don’t have to pinpoint it right this moment, but if you get the feeling you like the hospitality industry, there are lots of choices for you to experiment with, try out, and see where you’re going to go.”

Sports, Entertainment and Event Management
Associate Professor Brenda Eckler was on board to speak about JWU’s Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management (SEEM) program. Using the Super Bowl as the ultimate example, she indicated that it’s “one big event that includes it all [sports, entertainment and events] under one roof.”

Some students from our North Miami Campus recently volunteered for Super Bowl LIV, gaining valuable, real-life experience through one of the most significant events held in the world.


Eckler engaged the group in a discussion about jobs in sports, entertainment and event management, running the gamut from food and beverage, event planning, sales and sponsorships, to relationship, venue and risk management. She gave an example of a student of hers who couldn’t decide between working at an arena or being an accountant. “You can do both,” she told him, “you could be an accountant for a venue.”

Jobs in the concert industry came up next, and Eckler cited several options in that field, too. “You want to be an agent for a major performer. You can. You want to work in production logistics, lighting or stage production … you’ll get to use your creativity.”

Hospitality Experience Day was enjoyed by the students and parents alike, giving them food for thought about JWU’s COHM programs and their future hospitality careers. The dean and the faculty look forward to seeing the students back on campus in the fall — this time as JWU Wildcats!