2018 IHLAEF Scholarship Recipients

Kacie Cachera: Kacie Cachera is a junior majoring in Hospitality Management and double minoring in Human Resource Management and Business Administration at Eastern Illinois University. Kacie became interested in hospitality at an early age while traveling with her family and was captivated by the resort environment. One of her most memorable hospitality experiences was a food and beverage internship at Riverside Yacht Club in Connecticut during the summer of 2017, and she is currently working in the Pro Shop at Oak Terrace Resort & Spa in Pana, Illinois. Kacie’s short-term goal is to have an externship or job shadow at a Hilton brand hotel within the next year. With her degree, she hopes to become a Human Resources Manager for a hotel company.

Ubaldo Castillo: Ubaldo Castillo is a senior at Kalamazoo College majoring in Economics. In the hospitality industry, he has held positions as House Person, Front Desk Agent, and Finance/Accounting intern. He grew interested in hospitality when he realized that there where so many moving parts that help make hotels and restaurants work successfully. Ubaldo would like to work as a manager in training in finance or accounting for a hospitality company.

Yves Chambaz: Yves Chambaz is a senior in the Hospitality Management program at Kendall College with a concentration in Sustainability. Yves has experience in various hospitality organizations in Venezuela, Spain, and Chicago. He is currently working as a Culinary Instructor for a non-profit whose mission is to provide Chicago’s youth with a skillset that will make them eligible for an entry-level position within the industry. He plans to continue dedicating his time to helping others achieve their goals and contribute to improving the industry with his knowledge.

Keegan Davis: Keegan Davis is a junior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas pursuing a B.S. in Hospitality Management. Hotels and resorts are the next frontier in his professional growth as he intends to develop an unparalleled guest experience. Keegan’s walk with hospitality started with bussing tables at a local country club and working in customer service at an autobody shop. These jobs taught him the various facets of customer service and how enthusiasm and genuine service can go a long way in any business setting.

Jasmine Dinkins: Jasmine Dinkins is a junior at Johnson & Wales University studying Culinary Arts, Food Service Management. Having worked at Panera Bread, D’licious Crepes & Roti, and Menchies Frozen Yogurt, she has experience in the industry and is passionate about the work. She first realized that she wanted to work in the culinary industry when she saw students’ faces light up when a peer brought in treats. Jasmine decided she wanted to bring joy to others and thought the hospitality industry would be the best way to do that. She eventually wants to open a restaurant to honor the people who have helped her along the way.

Rebecca Doman: Rebecca Doman is a sophomore at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida. Her experience in hospitality thus far includes working for an entertainment company and working as a Restaurant Management Intern with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. She became interested in hospitality when working for the entertainment company in high school. She realized how much she loved working in an interpersonal environment where you are constantly impacting others, with the opportunity to positively contribute to their day to day experiences.

Megan Feeney: Megan Feeney is a senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in Hospitality Management with a minor in Business Administration. She became interested in the hospitality industry through a high school job, where she was a server and hostess at a local retirement community. Megan loved the customer service aspect of the job and the personal connections that she made. Her first internship was in the Rooms Division of The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. Megan got to work at the Masters Golf Tournament in 2017, and this past summer she was a Housekeeping Intern at the Grand Wailea, Waldorf Astoria Resort in Maui, Hawaii. Megan’s short-term goal is to be accepted into a management in training program for a global hotel company.

Marilyn Gasienica: Marilyn Gasienica is a senior at Iowa State University majoring in Hospitality Management. She is currently working at the Holiday Inn Chicago – Tinley Park Convention Center as a Front Desk Agent and is learning a great deal about hospitality. She still feels that there is a lot to learn and looks forward to gaining more experience. She hopes to eventually intern with the Walt Disney Company and to graduate in 2-3 years with her master’s degree.

Reda Hasan: Reda Hasan is a senior at DePaul University, majoring in Accounting and minoring in Hospitality Leadership as well as Data Analytics & Data Mining. Reda became interested in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry after seeing the strong passion that her hospitality professors had while teaching their classes at DePaul University. Her short-term goal is to continue developing customer service related skills, and one of her long-term goals is to be a part of an organization that allows her the opportunity to serve them in a diverse and exceptional manner with developing opportunities. 

Samantha Kliros: Samantha Kliros is a senior at DePaul University majoring in Finance and minoring in Hospitality Leadership. She has been interning in the Finance Department at the W Chicago City Center which has been a positive and educational experience. Her interest in hospitality sparked her junior year when she met multiple individuals working in the hotel industry and absolutely loved hearing about what they do. These encounters led her to do her own research and divert her original path in finance to a more hospitality-focused one. In the long run, she wants to become a General Manager of a hotel.

Payton Knisley: Payton Knisley is a sophomore at Southern Illinois University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Administration. Payton currently works at The Meeting Place, Bakery and Catering. She has always been fascinated with cooking and baking, and making food has always been a huge part of her life for as long as she can remember. This love for baking has helped Payton decide that she wants to pursue a career in food and beverage management. With this career path, she hopes to one day become a Food and Beverage Manager at a high-end hotel, resort, or cruise line.

Malikha Long: Malikha Long is a sophomore at Kendall College majoring in Hospitality Management. She stumbled upon hospitality when she realized her passion was helping other people. She strives to please and is excited to see what hospitality has to offer. She is currently working at The Hampton Inn & Homewood Suites and feels that hotels are the perfect fit for her. Her short-term goal is to continue training as a Front Desk Agent to gain experience and knowledge. Her long-term goals are to be a Housekeeping Supervisor, Director of Housekeeping, and Front Desk Supervisor or Front Desk Manager. 

Tess McArthy: Tess McArthy is a sophomore at Eastern Illinois University studying Hospitality Management. She completed her first internship with The Walt Disney Company in their Disney College Program. She became interested in the field of hospitality during her first trip to Disney World early on in life. She is still figuring out what she wants to do long-term, but she would love to get more internship experience and continue learning about the industry. Her short-term goal is to obtain another Disney internship, then Tess plans to work as a full-time Food and Beverage Manager for hotels.

Kenzie Mocogni: Kenzie Mocogni is a senior at DePaul University majoring in Hospitality Leadership with a concentration in Event Management. She has been working in the hospitality industry for six years with experience in restaurants, catering, event management, and more. In 2017, she interned in the Events Department at After School Matters and is currently an intern at CTC Destination Management. Her two short term goals are to meet as many people in the industry as she can and continue gaining as much experience in different aspects of the industry as possible. Long term, she hopes to grow into a director role in event management.

Anne Nelson: Annie Nelson is a freshman studying Hospitality Business at Florida State University. She became interested in hospitality at the age of sixteen when she got her first job working at a hotel on Amelia Island. Annie loved her job because she was working with families and people that were out to have an exciting vacation. Short-term, Annie plans to secure internships in as many different hospitality related roles, and her long-term goal is to one day own her own hotel or bed and breakfast.

Tess O’Callaghan: Tess O’Callaghan is a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University majoring in Hospitality Management. She became interested in this career path after many years of traveling and because of her love for working with people from a variety of nationalities and cultures. Her goal is to work for a leading hotel company such as Four Seasons or as the Tourism Ambassador for a major city like Chicago.

Kayla Oglesby: Kayla Oglesby is a sophomore at Southern Illinois University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism. Kayla is currently the Events Coordinator for the SIU Alumni Association. She loves her job and the people it allows her to meet. This job made her consider looking more into the hospitality and tourism field, specifically the hotel aspect. 

Clara Pauker: Clara Pauker is a sophomore at Purdue pursuing a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She initially became interested in the hospitality industry when her flight was late and the hotel did everything possible to accommodate her family and give them great service. Clara currently works as a Chef Instructor at a culinary studio which has given her the opportunity to grow as a leader. She enjoys interacting with the customers and thinking on her feet. She wants to gain experience in a few more aspects of the hotel industry before eventually owning and running a hotel of her own and looks forward to hospitality as a career that combines travel, food, and people.

Todd Pinta: Todd Pinta is a junior at DePaul University studying Hospitality Leadership. He is currently working at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago where he was promoted from an internship to a part-time position. The Ritz-Carlton has helped him improve his professional demeanor and enhanced his passion for the industry. He has learned how to effectively interact with and cater to the needs of guests in a luxurious environment. Todd first became acquainted with the hospitality industry working at Oberweis Dairy, and he is now interested in pursuing a hotel sales role and will continue working in various departments at Ritz-Carlton to gain additional experience and insight.

Elizabeth Redhead: Elizabeth Redhead is a junior at DePaul University studying Hospitality with a concentration in Event Management. Her previous experience at a hometown coffee shop contributed the most to her interest in hospitality. She loved having the chance to give people a great start to their day just by being friendly. Her first job was working a paper route as a kid and as much as she liked it, she was always begging people to come with her because she hated working alone. When she started a new job at an ice cream shop, she knew that working closely with customers is what she is passionate about. She also wants to gain experience in a front desk position before graduation to ensure she has experience in every aspect of operations. She eventually hopes to become a Corporate Planner. Elizabeth is excited to see what the hospitality industry has to offer. 

LeRoy Sthay: LeRoy Sthay is a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in Hospitality Management. LeRoy first sparked an interest in hospitality when he went on a Royal Caribbean Cruise. He was astonished by the workers’ dedication to ensuring all guests enjoyed the best experience possible. LeRoy is currently interning at Tan-Tar-A Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks. He is gaining a great deal of insight into what hospitality is all about and experiencing different levels of service in the multiple sectors of the industry. LeRoy’s short-term goal is to be in management at a resort hotel and slowly but surely save up to open a franchise hotel of his own.

Leah Tibbs: Leah Tibbs is a freshman majoring in L'Art de la Patisserie at The French Pastry School. Currently, she is working at Luxury Cake Company, the preferred wedding cake bakery for One North Kitchen. Her interest in hospitality and pastry comes from many years of travel and baking with her family. Her short-term goal is to continue working and learning at the Luxury Cake Company. Her long-term goal is to travel internationally, doing what she loves with pastry. 

Samuel Tucker: Sam Tucker is a sophomore majoring in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. During his first year of college, he took a position at a full-service Marriott in Houston. He then interned in the food and beverage operations department with Marriott International at the Westin Chicago River North. He is pursuing a career in hospitality because working in the industry is highly rewarding to him. Sam’s goals are to continue gaining hotel experience through various positions and internships and joining a manager-in-training program upon graduation.

Kevin Waterstreet: Kevin Waterstreet is a senior double majoring in Business Administration and Hospitality and Tourism Management. He has worked for the Hampton Inn – Macomb and held a summer internship in downtown Chicago at the University Center as a Guest Service Intern. He became interested in the industry after seeing his mom work so hard in the hotel sector without recognition or movement upwards due to her language barrier. Kevin’s short-term goal is to find a job in Chicago as a hotel Sales/Event Coordinator. His long-term goal is to open a hotel where he can provide jobs to minorities who can grow and receive English classes to help break down the barriers to moving up the career ladder. 

Ellen Woods: Ellen Woods is a junior majoring in Hospitality Management at Kansas State University. Her experience includes working in a restaurant, assisting an Event Coordinator at a country club, and planning non-profit fundraising events. Event planning excites her because each project is unique, and she enjoys seeing people come together to celebrate something. Her main goal is to move back to Illinois and pursue a career in hotel or cooperate event planning.