At The Lodging Conference 2019, student attendees received scholarships from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AHELF). The recipients recently spoke with LODGING about their insights from the 25th Lodging Conference and the scholarships’ impact on their educations.

What does the AHLEF scholarship mean to you?

Jessie Cheon: I’ve always wanted to attend college and get a higher education, but as an unaccompanied youth in high school, I wasn’t confident on how I was going to pay for my college education. The scholarship has allowed me to attend college without as much difficulty and inspired me to give back to the community once I become the successful woman that AHLEF is helping me to become.

Grace Zantua: By receiving the Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students scholarship, my financial burden has decreased, allowing me to focus more on the most important aspect of school – learning. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as AHLEF has helped me.

Anish Sharan: Words cannot describe what the AHLEF scholarships have meant for me. These awards serve as a constant reminder that hard work and dedication continues to make a world of a difference in my path to success. One day, I hope to give back to the foundation and help someone the same way I was helped through AHLEF.

Alejandro Flores: To me, it means security. It means that I will be able to focus more on school. It gives me the opportunity to learn as much as I can instead of working two jobs to pay for school.

What was the moment when you knew that hospitality was the career for you?

Selene Gabriela Gonzalez: I felt like I knew that hospitality was the career for me since my first day as a front desk agent. That moment was solidified one month later when I received my first guest thank you letter. It was heartwarming. I had found my passion. From that day forward, I have worked hard to gain as much knowledge as I possibly can to be the best that I can be.

Dashon Murray: Working in the hospitality industry isn’t an ideal job for some individuals, but I love working in a fast-paced environment. And every day in the hospitality industry is typically different.

Mackenzie Yandell: I chose to study hospitality because it combines my passions for leadership, world travel, and lodging management. Between the classroom components, internship requirements, and student-led events, I have been fortunate enough to develop skills that will allow me to find success within this industry. I hope to use these skills to create experiences for other guests that were as unforgettable as mine.

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