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Academy of Hospitality & Tourism graduates earn MHLA scholarships

By Staff | Jun 3, 2010

Maui Hotel & Lodging Association board members congratulate the scholarship winners. Pictured, from left, are: front — Board Member Nane Aluli, Jessica Lynn Salva, Carla Puen, Diana Lajorda and Daminick Ibarra; back row — Chassidy Sakamoto, Ericka Sablay, Richard Nguyen, Joyce Gazmen, Stephanie Alamon and Board Members Carol Reimann and Declan McCarthy.

WAILUKU — In a special luncheon prepared by the Maui Culinary Academy to honor graduating students in the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism (AOHT) program, the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association recently recognized 90 graduating seniors and presented $9,000 in scholarships to nine recipients who successful completed the two-year curricula designed for students interested in pursuing careers in the visitor industry.

Scholarship recipients recognized as outstanding achievers include Lahainaluna High School’s Stephanie Alamon, Joyce Gazmen, Richard Nguyen and Erika Sablay; Baldwin High School’s Chassidy Sakamoto; and Maui High School’s Dominick Ibarra, Diana Lagorda, Carla Puen and Jessica Lynn Salva.

“The AOHT program offers students a unique opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of the visitor industry. Many of these students continue on to post-secondary education with a head-start in selecting their field of study,” said Carol Reimann, executive director of the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association.

“We are pleased to offer such a great program to high school students — our future business leaders — and contribute to workforce development.”

Since AOHT’s inception in the early 1990s with a one-time donation from the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, the program has proven to be a successful public-private partnership. The seed that was first planted at Lahainaluna High School now includes programs at Maui High and Baldwin High School.

This innovative “schools within schools” concept emphasizes academic excellence while exposing students to the “real world.”  AOHT’s primary goal is to prepare students for post-secondary education and cultivate workforce development in one of the world’s largest service industries.

This innovative program administered by the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association provides students with valuable exposure to the industry via internships, job shadowing, research and event planning, service projects, job site visits, university visits and travel.

In addition, AOHT provides scholarship opportunities to high school students who wish to continue their education in the visitor industry. Today, the AOHT program on Maui includes over 220 students.

The program is supported in part by a grant from a federal workforce development initiative overseen by the Maui County Office of Economic Development. Scholarship funds for Maui AOHT graduates are funded with proceeds from the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association’s annual “Excellence in Education” golf tournament.

The 2010 Excellence in Education golf tournament will be held on Friday, Aug. 27, at Kaanapali Golf Resort. For registration forms or additional information, contact the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association at 244-8625.