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March 2016

March 2016 

  Spring Break Road Trip Offers a Big Taste of Texas Hospitality

At 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, Drs. Chris Taylor and Jay Neal and 12 of their lucky students loaded into a 15-seat van and headed west to the Texas Hill Country for the first Texas Food & Wine Experience. Sponsored by the Fred Parks Foundation and supported by the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, the four-night, 1,100-mile road trip included eight destination barbecue establishments and eight Texas wineries. In addition to sampling plates full of brisket, ribs, pork, chicken, sausage and sides, the group tasted 85 wines and attended two wine dinners, one of which was hosted by Ernie Loeffler, the CEO of the Fredericksburg CVB. They also visited a bourbon distillery. “Everybody just dug in. There were no lightweight eaters on this trip,” said Taylor, director of the College’s Beverage Management Program and Fred Parks Wine Cellar, who organized the logistics of the trip. “There were times when we were eating barbecue at 9:30 in the morning and again at noon.” Open to students who had taken the College’s Wine Appreciation class, the group also got an insider’s look at back-of-the-house operations, from the barbecue pits and the sausage rooms to the vineyards and barrel rooms. But the trip wasn’t just about wine and barbecue. From the moment they stopped at their first destinations—Snow’s BBQ in Lexington and Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor—they experienced genuine Texas hospitality, tourism and foodservice practices at their finest. The group spent their nights in Fredericksburg near the Urban Wine Trail, and also met with proprietors of wineries for discussions on the Texas wine industry. During the van rides to each destination, lessons on food safety and such gave students even more “food for thought.” Students were required to keep a daily journal and will submit reflection papers on their understanding of how what they experienced contributes to the state’s successful hospitality industry. At the end of every visit, Taylor asked, “How was your day?” and in unison, the students shouted, “THANK YOU, FRED PARKS!” It was, indeed, a great way to celebrate Texas hospitality, food and wine—and earn class credit! Thank you, Fred Parks Foundation!


  Student Spotlight: Pursuing Perfection

It’s been a BIG year for senior Danielle Shedd, one of four Hilton College students on the UH Women’s Diving Team. At just 5 feet, she may be tiny but oh, is she fierce! An All American since her freshman year, Danielle was named Freshman Diver of the Year. She followed that with 1-meter springboard titles her sophomore and junior years, and held the school record for the highest score. She’s made an even bigger splash as a senior, once again becoming the 1-meter champion, beating her own meet record with the highest score ever recorded at an American Athletic Conference meet, and winning the coveted title of AAC Woman Diver of the Year! “It’s exciting,” said Danielle, who started out as a gymnast at the age of 3. But with the constant pounding to her body, she suffered a bad hip injury and had to give it up. Danielle discovered diving in high school and was a natural, winning district meets, then regionals, and as a senior placed fourth at state. “Diving is an easy transition for gymnasts. The only thing that was really hard for me at first was landing on my head instead of my feet!” she said. Danielle caught the attention of UH and NCAA coaching legend (Olympian and Hilton College alum) Jane Figueiredo (’87), who offered the star diver from Universal City, Texas, a diving scholarship. I wouldn’t change my injury for anything in the world—where I am and who I am today as a person is because of the opportunities I’ve had in diving,” said Danielle. She enrolled at UH as a physical therapy major, but realized that math and science weren’t her strong suits. Coach Figueiredo introduced her to Hilton College, and it just fit her personality. Later, she took a Wine Appreciation class and found her new passion. Danielle is currently wrapping up two internships, including the Fred Parks Wine Cellar Internship, and graduates in May with a minor in Beverage Management and Marketing. She plans to have a career in beverage sales. Recently, she finished her last meet and is retiring from the sport she has grown to love so much. “It’s so bittersweet, but it’s time to become a real person,” she said. “Diving is one of those sports you love to hate. The littlest things can make the biggest difference in your outcome. It’s definitely a sport where you pursue perfection every day.” The most important thing she’ll take away from her student athlete experience? Belief in the process. “Not everything is going to come to you when and how you want it. You have to trust yourself enough and believe that what you are doing and the steps you are taking will eventually take you where you want to go.” Great advice from a great champion. Congrats, Danielle! 


  Introducing Georgina Cervantes, a ‘One-stop Shop’

Experience in higher education recruitment. Check. Experience in enrollment management. Check. Experience in advising and financial aid. Check, check. Bilingual in Spanish. Check. If there was ever a candidate who could check off all the preferred job description requirements, it’s Georgina Cervantes, the new college recruitment manager for Conrad N. Hilton College-San Antonio. Georgina’s addition to the “small but mighty” San Antonio team is certainly a fortuitous one. She brings more than 10 years of related experience to this pivotal new position, including six years as the assistant director of admissions for the University of Texas-San Antonio, and five years as a regional recruiter for Texas Tech. Her first job after college was as a recruiter for the University of Texas-Pan American (now UT-Rio Grande Valley) in her hometown of Edinburg. And she’s also worked for COSTEP, a nonprofit that assists students with applying for financial aid. Georgina holds a double BA in public relations and corporate communications from UH, and earned her MA in bicultural-bilingual studies from UTSA. Her thesis? Latino populations in higher education. Check those boxes, too! She was first introduced to recruiting while working part-time as a student at UH’s College of Optometry. She thought, “This is fun. I can do this!” Georgina wants to establish herself as a “one-stop shop” for students at the San Antonio campus. “My specialty is enrollment management because it’s not just knowing admissions; it’s not just knowing recruitment. It’s also understanding financial aid and identifying issues where students may not transfer or finish school. My job is to take away those barriers, and to be a resource,” she explains. Georgina jumped at the opportunity to work for her alma mater, and she truly believes in the growth that Hilton College is going to have in San Antonio. “It’s a great market, and I’m excited to be in on the ground floor,” she said. She plans to focus her recruiting efforts in Central South Texas, and she’s also looking to create relationships with community colleges in Laredo and Harlingen. “I’m most excited about going out into the community colleges and meeting the students there. That’s where the growth is,” she added. “In the 10 years I’ve worked in higher ed, the market has drastically changed. We need to change with it, or students will go elsewhere.” In addition to reaching out to the area’s large Latino population to answer any questions or concerns families may have about this program, Georgina is developing a “roadmap” on how to better market and communicate with high school and transfer students, as well as teachers, counselors and others who can talk to prospective students. “I want to be a big part of this!” she said. (Photo: Katie Guidroz)


  Go COOGS!! Go Camp Arocha!

Danny Arocha is going to camp—not as a camper but, rather, as one of only four namesakes for the 2016 UH Cub Camp. Cub Camp is an initiative of Provost Paula Myrick Short, created to help foster student success. During this extended freshman orientation program, to be held August 15-17 at Trinity Pines on Lake Livingston, first-year students come together as a class to learn about UH traditions, and to build community before even stepping foot on campus. The goal is to bond as a camp, so that on the first day of school each camper will have lots of new friends. Namesakes for each camp, who are chosen for the impact they’ve made on the University, can be involved as much or as little as they like. For the second time since the Camp’s inception in 2015, Hilton College has had another of its own honored as a Cub Camp namesake. Camp Arocha, named after our Director of Enrollment Danny Arocha, is this year’s green camp. Dr. Jay Neal was honored with Camp Neal during the Camp’s inaugural session. Both are passionate and dedicated alums. Lecturer Cathy Cheatham, who nominated Danny, has had students tell her that he is “The Reason” that they are choosing UH and Hilton College. He bleeds Cougar Red and is arguably the University’s biggest cheerleader. In his position, Danny has recruited hundreds of students since he joined the College in 2003. As the staff advisor to the Conrad N. Hilton College Ambassadors, he continues to be an enthusiastic mentor and an advocate to incoming students. “This recognition is validation that being passionate about our students matters. The foundation for where they are going in life happens here,” said Danny. “I’m proud to be part of this camp that instills Cougar pride and spirit from Day One, and I’m excited to get involved with the kids at Camp Arocha.” Two camp namesakes in two years? Considering the incredible talent pool at UH, it says quite a lot about the impact Hilton College has had on the entire University culture. Kudos Danny and GO COOGS! (Photo: Katie Guidroz)


  Hospitality is Hiring at Career Fair!

Boca West Country Club, Crestline Hotels & Resorts, G6 Hospitality, NFC Amenity Management, Palladium Hotel Group and Patrick Henry Creative Promotions were among the newest companies on deck for the Spring 2016 Career Fair and luncheon held February 18 at the Hilton University of Houston. Nearly 500 students and alumni seeking jobs and internship opportunities circulated resumes and networked with the 214 recruiters representing 71 of the world’s top hospitality companies from all sectors of the industry. What’s more, 18 companies conducted post-fair interviews with select students for internships, management and staff positions. Following the fair, attendees joined College faculty and staff at the bi-annual luncheon, where keynote speaker Denise O'Brien, regional vice president for Aramark, shared her professional journey and personal keys to success in the hospitality business with the soon-to-be graduates. Pictured left, she is presented with a gift for her time and career advice by graduate student Stephanie Boswell. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the dedicated behind-the-scenes work of Director of Career Development & Placement Lori Osborn, Career Counselor Colleen Gleeson, Graduate Assistant Kevin Schoppe and the 64 student volunteers, who assisted with event logistics. And special thanks always to our recruiters, who continue to provide our students with unmatched career opportunities! (Photo: Michael Scott)