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May 2014

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Spring 2014 Graduation
Goodbye & Good Luck to the Spring Class of 2014
The Spring Class of 2014 was nothing short of exceptional, and they have the hardware to prove it! Four graduate students received the Alumni Award for Scholastic Excellence, and for the first time ever, the Dean’s Award for undergraduates was given to three students! The Scholastic Excellence award-winners were Elena Kazakova (top left), Jookyung Kwon (top right), Evelyn Lo (bottom left) and Ruiliang Zhang (bottom right). The Dean’s Award winners (pictured in the top center photo, left to right) were Calli Oreschnigg, Cesar Hinojosa and Cali Smith. After commencement at Hoffheinz Pavilion, a reception for the graduates and their families was held at the Hilton University of Houston, where the awards were handed out. In addition to the student awards, four awards were given to outstanding faculty and staff. Assistant Professor Yoon Koh won the Stephen Rushmore/HVS Faculty Research Award, Lecturer Alexis Hoey won the Donald Greenaway Teaching Excellence Award, Lecturer Erin Oeser won the Service Excellence Award and Assistant Business Administrator Deepu Kurian won the Staff Excellence Award. Big congrats to all of the award-winners and the entire Spring Class of 2014 … With such a high-achieving group of graduates, we know you’ll continue to make Hilton College proud! (Photos: Taylor Wiley & Michael Scott)
Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair 2014
Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair a Record-Breaking Success!
The word is out: When it comes to foodie festivals, nothing tops the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair. This year, more than 10,000 people—a 30-percent increase in attendance from the 2013 event—swarmed Sugar Land for five days of wine, food and fun. Event director Krystal Peay (’10) and her team of 15 student managers did an outstanding job planning and executing every aspect of the festival, from the first taste of fun at the “Judgment of Paris”-themed VIP Kickoff Dinner at the Sugar Land Museum of Natural Science all the way to the final event—the popular Bistro Brunch in Sugar Land Town Square. More than 200 student volunteers staffed the various events, including the Grand Tasting, where they poured wine alongside the country’s top vintners and prepped gourmet delights with talented chefs from all over the world, like Brasserie 19’s Danny Jacob (MS ’10), a proud Hilton College alum! The craft beer craze had a major impact on the festival this year, too, with an expanded beer garden at the Sip & Stroll on the grounds of the old Imperial Sugar factory and an exclusive, pre-event beer-tasting dinner featuring George Reisch, brewmaster for Anheuser-Busch. This year’s record-breaking attendance also brought record-breaking fundraising, the proceeds of which benefitted the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair Permanent Scholarship Endowment! Cheers to our awesome student managers, volunteers, Krystal and our producing partners at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce for all of their hard work making this event a cork-popping success! (Photos: Taylor Wiley & Shannon O’Hara)
Krystal Peay
Alumni Spotlight: Krystal Peay Shines in Sugar Land
Planning a food and wine festival is no small task, and the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair is no small festival. Spanning over five days and drawing thousands of foodies annually, it’s the largest event of its kind in the region (and growing every year). With that kind of success, it should come as no surprise that one of Hilton College’s own is running the show: Krystal Peay (’10). Krystal has known she wanted to be a large-scale event director since she was a teenager. What she didn’t know was how she’d get there. But when she heard about Hilton College, her path became clear. “I moved across the country because of the College’s reputation and the educational opportunities in event-planning that are available here and in Houston. I literally knew no one, but I was following my dream,” Krystal said. While a student, she worked at a high-volume wedding venue and joined the UH student chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), eventually becoming president in 2009. Her enthusiasm, fundraising and recruitment efforts paid off: During her tenure, the chapter grew from a few dozen members to more than 100, and in 2010, she became the first student ever to receive the national NACE Student of the Year award. After graduation, she used her NACE connections to snag a great job with the largest specialty linen and event rental company in Houston, Elegant Beginnings. Two years later, she was recruited to be the director of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair. It was the perfect “pairing” that allowed her to combine her love of fundraising with her event-planning skills, all while giving back to the College that launched her career. Her advice for someone who’d like to pursue a similar career path? “In the events industry, experience is the best teacher. You just need to be hungry, learn to harness your natural abilities and don’t be afraid to take risks. When you have a dream or goal, you have to go for it,” she said. Great advice from another Hilton College success story! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
Innovative Hospitality Research on Display at GSARC
Hilton College grad students had the chance to show off their research prowess and network with hospitality professionals at the Graduate Student Association Research Colloquium (GSARC) on April 18. Hosted annually at the College, GSARC—organized by the Graduate Student Association with the guidance of Dr. Stephen Barth and Dr. Ki-Joon Back—gives grad students the chance to demonstrate their acquired knowledge, discuss concerns, present research and explore employment networks with industry professionals, faculty and fellow students. This year, 10 students presented their research in both stand-up and poster presentations. A panel of fellow students, faculty and professionals evaluated the research and determined the top two presentations. First place was awarded to Samantha Binford, whose research centered on human resource management. Second place went to Yoohee Hwang, whose research focused on medical tourism. Group presentations were also made by Associate Dean Carl Boger’s Service Management class, and all of the students had the chance to attend think tanks, where they held intimate question-and-answer sessions with industry guests. Congratulations to Samantha, Youhee and the rest of the student researchers on a job well done! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)