My name is Stacy Delapenha, and I am a 2010 graduate of the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism (AOHT) at Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, MD. My experiences from the AOHT laid a strong foundation for me. I am currently a junior at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Hospitality is truly a passion of mine and I’ve been building upon my experiences ever since I first enrolled in the academy as a sophomore. My AOHT instructor encouraged me to participate in a marketing internship at Brookside Gardens – a public display garden. At the time, I didn’t understand how this experience would connect to my passion for hospitality, but I took the internship. As an intern, I was responsible for researching and developing a marketing campaign to help promote adult group tours at the gardens. As someone who is looking to pursue a career in hospitality sales and marketing after college, this internship is an experience that I am still able to draw upon today. Even though I was only in high school, I learned how to research and create client databases, how to effectively communicate product attributes, and how to work with deadlines.
I still keep in contact with my teacher from the AOHT, Ms. Judy Reiff, who helped me find my internship. Once a year, I go back to my high school to talk to her class about the hospitality industry.
At Cornell, I have chosen to stay involved in activities that will help to provide me with valuable experiences in the hospitality industry. I am currently on the Sales and Catering track of the Hotel Leadership Development Program at the Statler Hotel, where I train with sales and catering managers to become a student sales manager. Outside of the hotel, I am also involved in the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality where I serve as the National Programs Director. In addition, I am the co-president of the Women of Color Coalition.
In the future I would like to pursue a career where I’d get to plan events for large corporations, non-profit organizations, or government agencies. But, before that, I’m interested in building upon my education by pursuing an MBA and expanding my work experience to include hospitality sales and marketing. I also hope that I can continue to share what I’ve learned with current AOHT students and give back as an Advisory Board member one day.
To anybody interested in enrolling in an AOHT, I would tell them to go for it because it’s a great opportunity to figure out if hospitality is something that you may be interested in. High school is a great time to figure out your level of interest because in college the stakes are much higher.
Also, I would advise anyone interested in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry to get as much experience exploring the industry as possible. Hospitality is a dynamic field, and there are many different areas that you can pursue as a career.
Questions for Stacy about the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, Cornell, or anything else she wrote about? Contact her on LinkedIn.