College years are meant for us to explore the great world, grow & development as humans but most importantly to have fun. IPFW’s hospitality and tourism management program granted me all the above by offering challenging courses in combination with an internship that prepared me as a student to flourish after graduation. IPFW introduced for the first time to their students in 2010, an internship/study program at Palm Island Resort located on a barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Florida that went above and beyond all expectations I had going into this program. Really the people I met along my journey there were the ones who changed my life. Most are now considered great friends. The semester came and went by in a flash, like most years in your 20’s.
I was finally a graduate and Florida, being one of the top destinations in the US and the world to visit, seemed like the most logical destination when starting out in my career; so of course, I stayed. After working hard to build a good reputation around Palm Island, I was pleasantly surprised when I was approached by Gasparilla Inn to manage their independent outlet restaurant called the Pink Elephant. A restaurant filled with plenty of charm & character, each cocktail accompanied with a dangling pink elephant. Most say the “Drunken Elephant”, essentially an alcoholic smoothie, is an absolute must when dining but really the amazing love & care Chef Plesh places into each, and every dish is what puts this restaurant above all others in this eclectic area off the coast of Florida. Undeniably Pink has great food & drinks but what also made this place my home was the people. Working with individuals from all walks of life, workers coming from the Philippines, Jamaica or even Connecticut, we all became each other’s family.
In these two great years I learned so many valuable lessons that prepared me for my next journey in life. I had always had a passion for events and felt that I needed the challenge of a move to develop myself personally and professionally I was lucky enough to be offered the position as events coordinator at the Westin in Maui, Hawaii, a beautiful resort in a fabulous location. After 2 years I was offered a promoted post as Events Manager at a sister property the Sheraton, Maui. The experience was challenging, exhilarating and, also somewhat exhausting, and I have grown to love Maui. I very much wanted to stay in hospitality but once more felt the need to expand my professional experience
As I’ve grown as a professional I look back and appreciate the challenges my university, mentors & my peers placed upon me. Without these experiences I wouldn’t be where am today; as a Sales Development Manager for Blue Hawaiian Helicopters; selling aerial tours in my one of most beautiful destinations in the world, Maui, Hawaii.
PFW alumni from 2010