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5000 Role Models smoothed out a rocky path for me

In this piece, which originally appeared in the Miami Herald, Carnival Gold Scholar Price Destinobles shares his experience with the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, which offers mentorship, guidance and educational assistance to young, minority men.  By PRICE DESTINOBLES There was a time that when people heard my story — incarcerated mother, absentee dad — their first inclination was to feel sorry for me. I would have, too, if I were in their place, but the way I grew up, self-pity was a luxury I couldn’t afford. The early years were actually good. My five older siblings and I lived with our mother in a nice, two-story home. I never lived with my father, but he’d visit me and, on rare occasions, take me to his house. When I was about 6, he just stopped coming around. Soon our family began moving from house to house. We downsized from the nice house in Broward to a one-story in Miami Gardens, ultimately settling at my grandmother’s in North Miami. With each move, the living conditions declined. I didn’t think things could get any worse until I was awakened in the middle of the night by a flashlight shining in my eyes. Six police officers had come to arrest my mother. Just 13, I didn’t really understand what was going on, and no one explained. When my mother came home two weeks later, I thought everything was fine. A couple of months later, however, she handed me the card to access the $200 my father paid in monthly child support and headed off to jail for the next six years. All but one of my siblings moved out to live with their fathers and an aunt [...]

White paper identifies talent challenges for future growth and profitability for the hospitality industry

MIAMI – (January 17, 2017)- FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management (CSHTM) and its Institute for Hospitality & Tourism Education & Research (IHTER) released a white paper titled Future Growth 2020: Insights to Action. In the face of evolution and disruption brought by technology, business leaders at the Visionary Leaders Roundtable in Miami provided the hospitality industry solutions to address the changing marketplace and make data-driven decisions. Authored by Dr. Miguel Alonso, Jr, director of economic development and research, at Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University (FIU), and Jia Zhu, account manager at the Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Education and Research (IHTER) at Florida International University, the paper explores insights, ideas and pertinent questions arising from the intellectual exchange that took place at this executive forum in early 2016. Presented exclusively by the Rainmaker Group, the roundtable brought together industry leaders who brainstormed ideas for driving industry’s future growth on the topics of The Talent Gap – Top Industry Challenge, Monetizing Data and Predictive Analytics, and Amplifying the Customer Experience. “In response to what industry has asked of us, we are actively moving to produce graduates who can bridge the hospitality industry’s strategic data needs to the practical application of the data in the field. “– Mike Hampton, dean, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management To download the white paper in English, please visit For more information on IHTER and the white paper, contact Jia Zhu at or at 305-919-4136.

Chaplin students earn top-level management training positions

This Spring, seven Chaplin students will begin management training programs at some of the top hotel chains in the world. Ashley Yenkiah, Kasner Myrie, Ana Ramos, Saul Darias, Luis Galindez, Phillip Spottswood and Corey Shield each beat out hundreds of candidates from hospitality management schools across the country to become one of the few selected for these highly-coveted positions. Six of these seniors will be joining Marriott International, while Saul Darias will join Hilton.   Along with hard work and determination, they all credit their success to the guidance and mentoring of the team at the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Career Development Program. Kasner Myrie will be joining the Marriott Voyage Global Leadership Development Program this Spring as a Rooms Operations Voyager for the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway. After applying for the program in his senior year, he turned to the career services office for help. “Kathy was a mentor to me,” Myrie said. Kathy Martin works directly with students as a Career Development Coordinator at the Chaplin School.“She provided great feedback and practiced with me on questions that I was not familiar with. She really pushed for me to pursue this goal and not quit when there were times I felt discouraged.” Management training programs like the Marriott Voyage program are a great way for students to  jump-start their careers, and they give hotels a way to nurture and develop individuals who are driven and passionate about hospitality. These seven students will join a growing force of elite Chaplin graduates who will go on to become leaders at some of the most prestigious hotel and resort brands around the world. “We’re developing our future leaders,” said Betty Ann Phillips, a university relations manager for Marriott [...]

Chaplin alumnus helps rebuild homes and communities in Haiti

Frank Speranza (right), works hand-in-hand with the people of Haiti and members of The Foundation For Peace to help rebuild a community devasted by Hurricane Matthew. Last Fall, Chaplin alumnus Frank Speranza ‘81, returned from his most recent trip to Haiti, where he worked with The Foundation For Peace to help rebuild a community devastated by Hurricane Matthew. His first stop after landing in New York, NY was the annual Waldorf-Astoria Distinguished Alumni Party. The two worlds stood in stark contrast to one another. “[In Haiti] we were working with a community around a school where water came down from the mountains and carved a canyon into the street about six to eight feet deep,” he said. “The water came into people’s homes, destroyed buildings, washed crops away, washed livestock away - they literally lost everything that allowed them to be self-sufficient. Speranza first became involved with the foundation while serving as the Vice President of Operations for Interstate Hotels. The hotel industry is often well-positioned to aid these kinds of relief efforts because of their access to basic hygiene products like soap and toothpaste, as well as clean sheets and linens. Initially, Speranza helped supply hygiene kits through the hotels for on-site medical clinics in Haiti. Eleven years ago, he traveled there for the first time with his son. The experience made an impact on him, and he knew he wanted to become more involved. Since that initial trip, Speranza has become the Chair of the Board of Missions for The Foundation For Peace and opened his own hospitality-focused executive recruitment agency - Hospitality Talent Scouts Executive Search. Today, while running a successful business out of New York, Speranza still makes [...]

Carlos Alcantara ’16 Named Business Development Specialist of the Year

Chaplin School alumnus Carlos Alcantara '16 was recently presented with the award for the Royal Caribbean 2016 North East Business Development Specialist of the Year. Alcantara began working with Royal Caribbean in 2013 as a Bilingual Cruise Sales & Service Representative and moved into his current role as a Business Development Specialist in November of 2014.

Carlton Russell ’89 named President of the BHTA

Former president of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association, Stuart Bowe (left), and incoming president, Carlton Russell '89. Chaplin School alumnus Carlton Russell '89 has taken over the role of President for the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association. Russell has been involved with the BHTA since becoming a Trustee for the Board of Directors in January of 2011, and has also served as Vice President of the organization since November of 2011. Russell has also worked as the Vice President of Resort and F&B Operations at The Cove & Reef at Atlantis, Paradise Island since 2013.