Members of the Chaplin School’s National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) traveled to the organization’s annual national conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this month.

Hospitality and tourism management student members offered reflections on their participation.

Chris Dirube NSMH President 2015/2016

I just want to say that national conference this year was amazing! This year, being my senior year, I went looking for an MIT program. With all the connections I had from being so active the previous years, I was given a lot more attention than someone who was a first-time attendee. During the workshops and networking suites, I spoke with as many of the people I could and almost all of them commented on the fact that they were interested in people who were active in their chapters and they mentioned that they liked how I was the chapter president and chair of the Chaplin School’s Hospitality Week.

Yolanda Suarez Former FIU NSMH president, current NSMH National Board Member

This organization has given me the platform to shine, grow, and mature into the young professional I am today. When I found NSMH, I found my home. I urge anyone thinking of joining NSMH to take the leap and do it. I thank everyone who has been a part of my journey or supported me along the way.

To top it off NSMH led me to my job after graduation. I will be moving to New Orleans as one of 50 Hilton Management Development Program Trainees in the U.S. at the Hilton Riverside.

Saul Darias FIU NSMH Pre-College Outreach Chair

With the support I had from Yolanda Suarez, Christopher Suarez, and Michelle Diaz I was able to make this conference a success for me. I got to network with outstanding individuals from all over the U.S., including an FIU alumnae Ashli Johnson who is teaching at Georgetown University and was able to shake hands with one of the original founders of NSMH, whom I thanked so much for everything. And even though the FIU chapter was small compared to the others, I was still so very proud of wearing my FIU pin on my suit jacket alongside the American flag pin. Though I only regret not joining this organization earlier, I believe that I will be attending the regional conference in the fall and will continue to support NSMH as an alumni as well.

Taniesha Mauvais New FIU NSMH Member

Attending the conference gave me the opportunity to meet with movers and shakers of the industry and network with people who work for companies such as Marriott International, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Sodexo, just to name a few. Not only did I network with industry professionals but I also had the opportunity to network with my peers who will one day, like myself, become leaders within the hospitality industry. Celebrating our differences while embracing our similarities are what really made attending this conference worthwhile.

Rebecca Van Horn FIU NSMH Social Media Director

The NSMH conference presented all of us the opportunity to network with our peers as well as with the amazing recruiters there. I was definitely expecting to have a good time, but I was not prepared for how much this conference would benefit my future. The time and money spent on this trip was well worth it and if I ever get the opportunity to go to again, I will do so in a heartbeat.

Sonnia Adames New FIU NSMH Member

What intrigued me the most was the workshop about women in hospitality. Panelists from all around the U.S discussed what it felt like having their managerial positions. It was great speaking with people who are in the industry, especially women have served as general managers for years at companies such as Marriott and Sodexo. During the career fair, I spoke to Apple, Aramark, and Sodexo. Sodexo was a company I never knew about until I attended the conference. But one of the panelist that was in the women in hospitality workshop was there and I was telling her how I felt empowered when she spoke about her experience. Next thing you know, I got an interview with Sodexho. The interview went extremely well. As of today, I received an e-mail from them about a second interview with me. I would have never expected that. So I’m grateful being part of NSMH and I thank Chris and Yolanda for welcoming me with open arms.

Patrick Alcee New FIU NSMH Member

Through the experience, I became more acquainted with brands such as Hilton and PAPAS Restaurants. I really connected with one of the PAPAS representatives so I will definitely be in contact with her in the near future. The same for Hilton representative. I learned from everyone that I came in contact with. The conference encouraged world awareness as we had the experience and get a little insight on different cultures.

Travel accommodations were made possible by a generous gift from the Marriott Foundation.

NSMH was founded at Cornell University in 1989. The organization aims to provide support minority students to promote involvement in the hospitality industry by encouraging meaningful exchanges between hospitality professionals and minority students.

Photo: FIU hospitality management students members of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality at the annual conference in Washington, D.C.: (left to right) Chris Dirbue (FIU NSMH President); Yolanda Suarez (FIU NSMH Former President and current NSMH National Board Member); Michelle Diaz (FIU NSMH Chapter Delegate)