2017 IHLAEF Scholarship Recipients

Weronika Celer 
Weronika Celer is a junior at DePaul University studying Hospitality with a concentration in Lodging Management. She became interested in hospitality when she visited the School of Hospitality Leadership at DePaul and spoke with the director to discuss classes and career outlooks. After taking a few hospitality classes, she realized it was the right path for her. She currently works at Conrad Chicago as a Guest Services Ambassador and loves the hotel atmosphere. After graduation, she plans to become a Flight Attendant as a gateway to travel the world and become more culturally aware. Long-term, she plans to get back into the hotel sector and pursue a leadership role. WATCH VIDEO

Yves Chambaz 
Yves Chambaz is a junior in the Hospitality Management program at Kendall College with a concentration is 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 position in the industry. He plans to continue dedicating his time to helping others achieve their goals and contribute to improving the industry with his knowledge. WATCH VIDEO

Hayley Delaney 
Hayley Delaney is a senior in DePaul University’s School of Hospitality Leadership. Hayley’s interest in hospitality comes from experiencing great service and having memorable experiences as a hotel guest. She has interned with Raised Rooftop Bar working as a Hostess and Food Runner as well as with the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel working in the front office. She wants to focus on making the most of her senior year by networking and creating her brand. She plans to apply for the Voyage Program through Marriott International after graduation to continue her education. WATCH VIDEO

Jermaine Dill 
Jermaine Dill is a sophomore at Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute at Kennedy-King College. He was recently part of a team for the Celebrity Chef du Jour at the Taste of Chicago 2017 and also has experience volunteering for Washburne pop-up restaurants. Having always loved helping out at big family gatherings, Jermaine thought the hospitality industry would be a great fit for him. Jermaine intends to finish his associate’s degree and then transfer to a four-year university. He is unsure what he’d like to specialize in, but hopes to pursue leadership once he has more experience. 

Jasmine Dinkins 
Jasmine Dinkins is a sophomore at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island studying Culinary Arts. 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 she wanted to work in the culinary industry when she saw student’s 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. WATCH VIDEO

Megan Feeney 
Megan Feeney is a junior at the University of South Carolina majoring in Hospitality Management. She was first introduced to the hospitality industry working as a server in a retirement home. She loved being in service so much that she wanted to make it into a career. She was a Rooms Intern at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, learning all the ins and outs of the hotel industry. She also had a Housekeeping Management Internship at the Grand Wailea in Maui, Hawaii. She hopes to get a part time position at a hotel this semester to continue gaining experience before graduation, and would love to bring her talents to Chicago. She eventually wants to become a GM of a luxury hotel, but for now hopes to work for management development after graduation. WATCH VIDEO

Ashlyn Gardner 
Ashlyn Gardner is a senior at Northern Illinois University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management with an emphasis in Hotel Management. She has held customer service and retail jobs throughout the years but is most excited for her Disney College Program this fall, where she will work as a Front Desk Cast Member, learning and working within one of Walt Disney World’s well-known resorts. After this program, she will finish school and graduate in the spring. She hopes to reapply for the Disney College Program and potentially receive a full-time offer. WATCH VIDEO

Marilyn Gasienica 
Marilyn Gasienica is a junior 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 lot about hospitality. She still feels 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.

Matthew Korman 
Matthew Korman is a senior pursuing a major in Hotel Administration at Cornell University. Over the past five years, he has been able to experience many different aspects of the hospitality industry. First, he worked in the kitchens of Abigail’s, Bluegrass, Gabriel’s, and Restaurant Michael where he developed a keen understanding of how to efficiently operate and manage a kitchen. Then, when Matt wanted to experience the front of house and have a direct interaction with the customer, he participated in the Lettuce Entertain You Internship Program. Through that internship, Matt acted as a Floor Manager at Di Pescara. Most recently, Matt worked for Harrison Street Real Estate Capital as an Incoming Acquisitions Analyst. Matt feels that these positions have taught him about all of the moving parts within a hotel and what it takes to run a hotel smoothly. Although he is not sure of exactly how he wants to impact the hospitality industry in the future, he knows that in the short-run, he wants to gain experience and knowledge in hotel development.

Malikha Long 
Malikha Long is a freshman 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. Malikha hopes to graduate after 2 years and is interested in a Director of Housekeeping position as well as being a General Manager down the line. WATCH VIDEO

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. WATCH VIDEO

Kenzie Mocogni 
Kenzie Mocogni is a junior in the School of Hospitality Leadership at DePaul University. She became interested in hospitality because of the warm and welcoming nature of the industry. Kenzie was the Special Event Student Coordinator at DePaul for 2 years and is currently working for Shannon Gail Weddings and Events as well as interning for the events department at After School Matters. She loves celebrations and wants to do special events and weddings in Chicago. She hopes to graduate with a BSB in Hospitality in 2019 and hopes to help people make memories and enjoy celebrations with their friends and families. WATCH VIDEO

Tess O’Callaghan 
Tess O’Callaghan is a freshman at Penn State University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She has always been interested in planning and organizing various activities and loves to work with other people which made hospitality a great path. Tess has worked as a Hostess as well as Head of HR for her Entrepreneurship class. She also has significant experience in fundraising and feels she can apply her fundraising knowledge to the hospitality industry. After graduation, she intends to live abroad and become fluent in Spanish and French, eventually pursuing a career overseas. She hopes to become either a Tourism Ambassador for a major city or manage a major hotel chain. 

Deborah Ogunribido 
Deborah Ogunribido is a junior at the University of Central Florida majoring in Hospitality Management. She became intrigued by the hospitality industry after following her mother to catering events in Nigeria. With support from her mother, she decided to pursue her degree despite cultural challenges. She is excited to graduate and eventually hopes to open up her own hospitality school in Nigeria and give other students hope that there are career paths for them. WATCH VIDEO

Jaclyn Parks 
Jaclyn Parks is a senior at Southern Illinois University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Administration. After her first job at the front desk of a hotel, she knows that she wants a career in hospitality. She has 2 years of experience in hotels, including managerial training, and has completed a 10-month internship at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. She found that she was a people person while working as a tour guide at school and would love to have a position as a Hotel or Resort Manager. She wants to be an industry leader and be very involved in local travel and tourism efforts. WATCH VIDEO

Clara Pauker 
Clara Pauker is a freshman at Purdue pursuing a degree in Hospitality 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. WATCH VIDEO

Todd Pinta 
Todd Pinta is a sophomore at DePaul University studying Hospitality Leadership. He is currently working as an intern with the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, rotating through positions such as Guest Relations and Front Desk Tenant and working with their signature Lounge Club. Learning about the different components of working in a hotel has helped him realize that he wants a career in hospitality. Todd first became acquainted with the hospitality industry working at Oberweis Dairy, where customer interaction and satisfaction was the top priority. He is determined to study abroad and gain more experience in the upcoming years. WATCH VIDEO

Elizabeth Redhead 
Elizabeth Redhead is a sophomore 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. WATCH VIDEO

Ethan Reynolds 
Ethan Reynolds is a sophomore at the Culinary Institute of America pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and Food Business Management. He has always loved food but didn’t consider it for a career until spending six weeks backpacking in Europe with his father. He was inspired by the culture and knew he would want to return someday to work in fine-dining restaurants. After realizing his passion, he got a job in a Latin fusion restaurant, Carnivale, in Chicago. He is currently completing an internship at The Inn at Little Washington. His dream is to travel the world, spending a year or two in each restaurant and then moving somewhere new. He wants to continue learning about food and eventually become Head Chef of a restaurant. WATCH VIDEO

Gabrielle Serpico 
Gabrielle Serpico is a senior at DePaul University’s School of Hospitality Leadership with a concentration in Event/Meeting Management. She grew up with parents who pushed her to help others and work hard, so from a young age she found herself loving people and striving to make them happy. She volunteered as a Candy Striper in a hospital and took up various other jobs in hospitality throughout high school and realized she wanted to pursue a career in the industry. She has had multiple internships and participated in many volunteer opportunities through DePaul and is hoping for even more experience working in the field before graduation. WATCH VIDEO

Samuel Tucker 
Samuel Tucker is a freshman at the University of Houston majoring in Hotel and Restaurant Management with a focus on hotels. Sam’s passion for service began at a young age, always ensuring those around him felt welcome and comfortable in their surroundings. During high school, his passion for service led him to seek experience in various roles in the hospitality industry. Sam began his career as a Server at an assisted living community and progressed to serving as a Restaurant Host, Conference Center Attendant, and Front Desk Agent at the full service I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign. While attending school, Sam intends to work at a full service, luxury property in Houston. Following graduation, he plans to advance in his career within a luxury hotel chain and get his MBA. WATCH VIDEO

Kevin Waterstreet 
Kevin Waterstreet is a junior at Northern Illinois University double majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management and Business Administration. He has previously worked at the front desk at the Hampton Inn Macomb and is currently working in retail. He became interested in the hotel industry after watching his mother work hard and feel as though she wasn’t being recognized. He also wants to travel and embrace every opportunity. Kevin’s short-term goals are to keep his grades high and work on his leadership skills in several organizations. Eventually, he wants to own a hotel that can be a representation of his own brand. WATCH VIDEO

Lindsey Wehking 
Lindsey Wehking is a senior at DePaul University majoring in Communications and minoring in Hospitality. Her parents both working in the hospitality industry meant that she was exposed to opportunities in hospitality that grew into a love for the industry. Her first job in hospitality began her sophomore year in high school when she worked as an intern at the Herrington Inn and Spa in Geneva, Illinois. She has experience working at the Palmer House Chicago as well as the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. She wants to learn as much as possible in her final year at DePaul and be able to apply her studies to her work after graduation. She hopes to have a career that allows her to travel and learn more about the world, experiencing new cities and new people. WATCH VIDEO

Sylvia Wtorkowski 
Sylvia Wtorkowski is a senior at DePaul University pursuing a dual degree program that consists of a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Masters of Science in Hospitality Leadership and Operational Performance. She currently works at Booking.com as a Business Development Partner Services Intern and has been conducting research on the non-hotel accommodation growth potential in the Midwest. Her favorite part of what she does is meeting tourists and helping them have the best experience possible during their stay in Chicago. She aspires to be a Revenue Manager, where she can build strong relationships with third parties and help her company develop stronger business development practices. WATCH VIDEO

Matthew Zyburt 
Matthew Zyburt is a senior at Purdue University studying Hospitality and Tourism Management. He has worked as a Server for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and worked as a Steward Intern aboard American Cruise Lines’ ship, the American Star. He also had the opportunity to study abroad and work as an Accounting Assistant for BG Hotels in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Matthew is currently a Territory Sales Intern for Ecolab in Nashville, Tennessee. He wants to pursue a career in hospitality because his priority is the customer. He hopes to obtain a Manager in Training position before graduation and eventually wants to work for a company who shares his values.

Brianna Zyer 
Brianna Zyer is a junior at Northern Illinois University studying Hospitality and Tourism Management. For the past two years, she has worked as a hostess at the Dancing Marlin in Frankfort, Illinois, growing accustomed to the fast pace of hospitality. Bree has always admired the industry because it allows guests to immerse themselves into an experience, sometimes even a culture, and feel the comfort of being at home. She wants to leave every guest she encounters with a sense of fulfillment and wonder. She hopes to eventually own a boutique hotel that emphasizes experience and seeks to provide an environment conducive to learning and understanding. Her main goal is to make other people feel welcomed and comfortable in an unfamiliar space. WATCH VIDEO