Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Graduation Day

I love to learn, and I welcome the opportunity to participate in engaging and interesting ways to expand my knowledge, in general, and, as it relates to the hospitality industry and leadership in particular.

It’s one of the reasons that I went back to school a couple of years ago with the intent of obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management.

I started out in this business over 25 years ago now, as a bellman, and at that time you could still advance in this business on the basis of hard work and commitment, and I was also fortunate enough to work for managers who saw my potential and embraced the concept of promoting from within, and so I was able to continue to advance over the years, to eventually reach the positions of general manager and asset manager, learning along the way and taking individual courses that complimented my experiences.

But, I did not have a degree, which is I confess something that I always wanted to obtain, for a number of reasons, and so when I was presented with an opportunity to obtain my degree, while continuing to work, I jumped at the chance and I enjoyed every minute of the experience.

I officially finished my degree program in November 2010, but the convocation ceremonies weren’t held until the middle of June 2011.

I had debated whether or not to attend, with mixed feelings of both pride for my accomplishment, and a little embarrassment at the fact that I anticipated being about twice the age of most of the other grads that would be in attendance, but I did attend, and I’m glad that I did.

As I suspected, the majority of those in attendance were probably about 22 or 23 years old, if that, and I found myself in my cap and gown in the midst of a sea of giggling young women who were obviously excited about this special day that they and their friends had worked so hard to reach.  Their friends and their family in the audience snapping off photos whenever the opportunity presented itself, all of us waiting anxiously in line to proceed to the stage, hear our name called out, and receive our degree.

Eventually, the waiting was over, my name was called, and I proceeded across the stage to receive my degree and congratulations from the faculty and president of the college.

Afterwards, someone asked me if I was glad that it was done, the work that is, the classes, the papers and other projects, and my immediate response was “no.”  I am glad to have completed the necessary work to have obtained my degree, but I am always looking for new opportunities to expand my knowledge and stay current in our industry, which is one of the reasons that I am involved in some of the initiatives that I am at present, and why I will continue to look for ways to learn and grow, to expand myself, and to share what I have learned with those that are just starting out in the hospitality industry.

"Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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