Alumni reconnect, forge new relationships during Panther Alumni Week

*photo caption: Tom Luersen ’84 (left), and Seth McDaniels ’10 (right), at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management during Panther Alumni Week

Over 40 alumni returned to the Chaplin School for Panther Alumni Week to share their experiences in the hospitality industry with students and faculty. During their time here, many took the opportunity to forge new connections and reminisce with former classmates in between their visits to the classrooms.

Seth McDaniels ‘10, is the General Manager of the Epiphany Hotel in Palo Alto California. He made the trip to Miami with another Chaplin alumnus, Tom Luersen ‘84, COO of Two Roads Hospitality, which manages the Epiphany Hotel.

“I got invited on this trip after talking to Mr. Luersen when he found out I was also a Chaplin alumnus,” said McDaniels. “And I made it a point to tell the students that the people I went to school with I now know as leaders in the industry. So, it’s important to make those connections when you’re in school. That was one of the best things I got out of being a student at FIU.”

As luck would have it, Luersen had a special run-in of his own with another Chaplin alum that week while speaking with Associate Dean Rocco Angelo — Jay Litt ‘73, Principal at The Litt Group.

“I was talking to Tom and I happened to mention that there was another alumnus, Jay Litt, speaking in a classroom,” said Dean Angelo. “He immediately said, ‘Oh my gosh, he hired me for my internship at the Sheraton Bal Harbour when I was a student. I’d love to talk to him’. So, I made sure they were able to speak with one another and I think it was great moment for both of them.”

Although alumni week is a great opportunity for students to hear from leaders in the industry about their work and their individual paths to success, it’s also a great chance for those same industry leaders to meet the new crop of hospitality professionals who will one day be leaders themselves.  

“The one thing I was super impressed with is that, since I’ve been back [in California], I’ve spoken with five students on the phone and I’ve gotten about 12 resumes,” McDaniels said. “So, I think it’s been highly successful because part of our objective in going to alumni week was not only to speak with the students, which is a great honor, but also to recruit because we really want FIU graduates.”