AHLA Foundation Introduces First-Ever Presidential Award

At a time when the hotel industry is hurting and nearly 4 million hotel employees remain furloughed across the country, the AHLA Foundation is focused on finding innovative approaches to help displaced workers advance their skills and education. 

The Foundation is pleased to unveil its first-ever Presidential award, which grants a full-ride scholarship to help them advance their skills and education. The scholarship will cover all costs for the students to pursue an associate’s degree at Valencia College, including tuition, computer, transportation, meal benefits, and other necessary essentials.

The first four Presidential award recipients – Andre, Jordan, Larissa and Luzmary – attended Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, funded in part by the AHLA Foundation through its Empowering Youth Program, but were furloughed as COVID-19 brought travel to a halt. As part of their training program, each youth earned industry certifications from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Due to their robust training program, they will each begin school with 18 credits already completed towards their degree.  

  • Andre Trinidad: After completing Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, Andre worked at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, FL and says that he loved every minute of it! The scholarship will now help him further his education and get him one step closer to his dream of owning his own restaurant.  
  • Jordan Cooper: The scholarship will allow Jordan to enhance and obtain skills that will help him as he pursues a career in the hospitality industry. One day he hopes to become a top chef, open his own restaurant, or market a food product. “Every good start has humble beginnings. When I make it to the top, I will remember Second Harvest and the AHLA Foundation.”  
  • Larissa Julien: Larissa has been working hard to save up for college but has been unable to afford a full tuition. The scholarship will reduce the stress of having to pay for college and get her one step closer to reaching her dream of becoming a great chef.
  • Luzmary Gonzalez: As a pastry cook at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, FL, Luzmary really enjoys making beautiful and delicious desserts and hopes to one day open her own shop. She says that the scholarship has brought joy and hope back during this difficult time.      

Funding for these scholarships comes from the generous support of AHLA Foundation donors and the Melinda Bush Mentors Scholarship Fund.

WESH 2 covered the story HERE

Congratulations to all four recipients!