This coveted national award recognizes outstanding academy graduates for their achievements in industry, higher education and giving back to the academy.
On Friday, Jan. 21, at 9 a.m., County Councilman Mike Victorino will introduce a resolution honoring Talon’s many accomplishments.
NAF launched the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism (AOHT) in 1987. AOHT is a program that prepares students for post-secondary education and careers through a theme-based, contextualized curriculum approach.
It provides public high school students with the requisite knowledge and skills for a successful career in one of the world’s largest service industries through a curriculum that provides an in-depth look at all aspects of tourism and hospitality, including coursework in business, geography, hospitality and economics.
AOHT operates as a small learning community and is located in more than 110 high schools nationwide.
The first academy in Hawaii began on Maui in the early 1990s at Lahainaluna High School, funded by a one-time donation from Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
Due to its success, Maui High School and Baldwin also joined the program in 1994 and ’95, respectively. Currently, there are 220 students enrolled in the AOHT programs on Maui. The Maui Hotel & Lodging Association provides administrative and program support for the AOHT.
Konrad, the son of Lawrence Talon of Kahului and Barbara McLeod of Wailuku, is a 2005 graduate of Maui High School’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism and credits the program for many of his successes.
He said, “The AOHT program changed the course of my future for the better. Students who are thinking about staying in Hawaii should let the AOHT entice them to join the hospitality and tourism industry as a viable career.”
College was never within the scope of Konrad’s future plans during his early years at Maui High School. In his mind, entering the workforce after high school was his only option — this was the path of his family and friends, so this was the direction he intended to pursue.
However, after joining AOHT, where he assumed the leadership role of vice president, the program afforded him an opportunity to participate in various job-shadowing and internship placements in the hospitality industry.
With these real-world experiences under his belt, Konrad realized that a career in visitor industry management was not only desirable but very much attainable.
Upon graduating from high school, as the first member in his immediate family to ever pursue post-secondary education, Konrad enrolled at the University of Hawaii Maui College and also worked full-time at the former Maui Prince Hotel.
Upon obtaining his Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts two years later, Konrad still hungered for more and was successful in transferring to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he was accepted into the School of Travel Industry Management.
Because of his outstanding job performance, he was also able to transfer to a Prince Hotel sister property on Oahu, where he continued to work full-time while attending U.H.
During his time at the U.H. school, Konrad served as chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Satellite Chapter, tripling its membership within a year; received the Dean’s Spirit of Travel Industry Management Award for 2010; and worked as an executive intern with the general manager of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.
Konrad serves as a mentor and role model to academy students. He is on the advisory board for the AOHT, speaks regularly to Hawaii high school academy students and contributes to the annual AOHT Student Conference and Career Fair.
This past December, Konrad graduated from U.H. with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Travel Industry Management. He is currently employed as the rooms controller at the new and luxurious Waikiki Edition Hotel. This highly stylized hotel functions as a “home away from home” for leisure and business travelers.
Konrad Talon’s inspirational speeches motivate Academy of Hospitality & Tourism students to think about higher education and a future career within the hospitality industry.