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Hospitality students encouraged by leaders in their chosen industry

Niagara University's hospitality and tourism management students Thursday were offered a little advice on how to become successful in the world's hotel, tourism, and food and beverage industry by national and international leaders in those fields.

Their suggestions were simple: work hard, be creative, work with passion and make oneself valuable to one's organization.

The advice was freely given by John Doherty, executive chef of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City for the past 30 years; John M. Scott, president and chief executive officer of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts of Dallas; and Jan Shrem, founder and proprietor of Clos Pegase Winery in Napa Valley, Calif.

All three were honored at the university's eighth annual College of Hospitality and Tourism Management Convocation. A fourth person, Thomas Shepard, chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based Festival Network, was honored with the Travel Industry Leadership Award but was unable to attend.

Two of the honorees come from organizations -- the Waldorf-Astoria and Rosewood Hotels and Resorts -- that work with students in Niagara's hospitality and tourism management program by taking part in on-campus instruction, giving students work experience with summer jobs and internships, and even hiring a number of students upon graduation, college Dean Gary D. Praetzel said.

In the past six years, Praetzel said, the Waldorf-Astoria has hired 12 Niagara graduates and the Rosewood operation at least 10.

Praetzel also said he hopes to develop good working relationships with Shrem and Shepard by having them on campus to speak with students in the classroom. He said Shepard already has committed to come to Niagara during the spring semester because "we have a lot of students in the event-management area" of study and "Shepard has a long career of organizing events in different parts of the world. We hope to have him in the classroom for a day."

Doherty received the school's Food Industry Leadership Award; Scott, the Lifetime Hotelier Leadership Award; and Shrem, the Wine Industry Leadership Award.

The convocation took place in the university's Alumni Chapel, which was packed with students.

Doherty's comments were representative of the messages Scott and Shrem offered.

He told students, "All the education and talent in the world means nothing if you're not willing to work hard."

"You also have to make yourself valuable to your organization. We look to keep the best and the brightest and the hardest workers. We need to lose the people who are not contributing to the organization. So make yourself valuable," he said.

Shrem added that a person also has to have a passion for what he's doing to be successful.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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