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June 2014

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Hard Hat Area: Renovations, Improvements Under Way
When students return this fall, they’ll notice some pretty significant changes at the College, thanks to a number of major construction projects currently under way in the South Wing. The most anticipated project is the transformation of our demo kitchen into a new state-of-the-art wine-tasting lab. Part of the College’s commitment to expanding its beverage management program, this $750,000 lab renovation will also include a functional kitchen for cooking demonstrations. Construction is expected to be complete by the time the fall semester begins, but in the event of a delay, alternate space has already been reserved for our wine appreciation classes. Alumni Hall, which hasn’t been touched since the early 1990s, is getting a major facelift as well. Our largest classroom is being completely gutted—ceiling, walls, flooring, seats and electronics—and a special honoree wall recognizing a number of iconic leaders in the history of the College will be the centerpiece of this $500,000 renovation. More on who is being honored and how this came about later! One of the major improvements you won’t see is the replacement of a sewer line that runs through the South Wing. This new line will provide proper drainage to Barron’s and Cougar Grounds and allow us to reopen the restrooms in that hallway. We’re also building a new patio outside of Barron’s and Cougar Grounds, which will enhance the outdoor space available for students and other patrons. We’re excited about these changes and look forward to everyone enjoying them in the fall! (Photos: Taylor Wiley)
Lisa Ballesteros
Developing San Antonio: Introducing Lisa Ballesteros
There’s a new face in Hilton College’s development office! Lisa Ballesteros joined the team this month as the director of development for the Conrad N. Hilton College – San Antonio. A long-time San Antonio resident, Lisa knows the community and the city like the back of her hand and will be a valuable asset in introducing our College to potential donors and supporters. Lisa is a graduate of The University of Texas at San Antonio, where she earned her bachelor’s, and Sul Ross State University, where she earned her MBA. She has always worked in development—first with the San Antonio Housing Authority and then with Teamability Learning Center, and she is thrilled about the opportunity to cultivate support and introduce Hilton College to her hometown. Lisa’s energy, passion for education and love of hospitality make her the perfect person to move our San Antonio program forward. Please join us in welcoming her to the Hilton College family! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Hilton College Summer Camps
Six Camps Give High School Students a Taste of Hospitality
Calling all campers! High school students from across the country are getting a taste of the hospitality life this summer, thanks to a record number of Hilton College summer camps. This month, Director of Enrollment Danny Arocha and his Conrad N. Hilton Ambassadors are hosting three separate academic camps. For the past decade, high school seniors from the Houston area and beyond have applied to attend these camps, and this year 75 promising young scholars—some coming from as far away as Massachusetts, Florida and Arizona—were selected to attend. These special academic camps give potential students the chance to learn about the hospitality industry and experience the Hilton College life firsthand. It’s a successful recruitment tactic, for sure—over the years, more than 60 percent of the students who’ve attended these camps have enrolled at Hilton College! In July, the other camps get started. Two of those are centered around our food safety lab and will be attended by students from Spring Branch ISD. One of them is a general food-safety camp, focused on the food industry. The other, which is hosted in partnership with Houston Community College, gives students the chance to work in our aquaponics lab and explore potential careers in horticulture and the food industry. Finally, the College will host the second annual Admiral Hospitality Scholars camp. Produced in partnership with David Robinson’s Admiral Capital Group, Hilton Worldwide and American Liberty Hospitality, the Admiral Hospitality Scholars program provides clear career paths in the lodging industry to a select group of deserving students from HISD. Big thanks to everyone who’s worked so hard to make these camps a reality! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Syreeta Mitchell
Alumni Spotlight: Entrepreneur Takes Degree in New Direction
Syreeta Mitchell is a hospitality entrepreneur. A 2004 graduate of Hilton College, she’s now president of Symmetry Strategies LLC, a company she founded herself. Though she specializes in corporate events, non-profit marketing, executive coaching, professional development training and public speaking, Syreeta started off working in lodging at the Four Seasons, while she was a student. After family obligations prompted an unexpected post-graduation move to Dallas, Syreeta re-evaluated her career and got a job in the banking industry. In 2009, after the rough economy forced a career change, she decided to go out on her own, combining her love of hospitality, community outreach and marketing. Syreeta started volunteering her services for different non-profit organizations and companies in Dallas, producing events and creating fundraising and community outreach opportunities. When her fiancé got a job in Houston, she packed up and started over again in the Bayou City. With the experience and contacts she created in Dallas, it didn’t take long for her to get the ball rolling, and in 2013, she was profiled on the Houston Business Journal’s prestigious “40 Under 40” list. Syreeta credits her success to her commitment to networking and her willingness to capitalize on the opportunities that life presents her—no matter how unexpected they might be. Her advice for others who’d like to pursue a similar, off-the-beaten career path? Start with a degree from Hilton College, and then make it your own. “Hospitality is such a great thing to study, because it touches every facet of business. You don’t have to go the traditional route; make your degree work for you. Find what makes you distinctive, what makes you stand out from millions of other people—and go for it!” (Photo: Taylor Wiley)