COA honors recent Hospitality & Tourism Certification grads

By on June 8, 2018

COA president Robert Wynegar, Hilton Garden Inn HR director Jodie O’Sullivan, program grads Pei-Hua Shen and Dustin Lugay, Hilton Executive Housekeeper Heather Fortner, Dean of Dare COA campus Timothy Sweeney. (Katrina Mae Leuzinger-Owens)

Pei-Hua Shen and Dustin Lugay, interns at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk, received a surprise visit at work on June 1 from College of the Albemarle.

Shen and Lugay both recently graduated from COA’s Hospitality and Tourism certification program on April 26.

The program includes courses in customer service, housekeeping operations, maintenance certification and more, with the ultimate goal of securing graduates a job in the industry right out of the gate.

The pair of graduates have achieved exactly that goal and COA wanted to recognize that, along with showing their appreciation to the Hilton for hiring their students.

“We felt that it was a great way to show our support to Hilton for hiring our graduates, said Amy Alcocer, COA’s Public Information Officer. “Our students are completing the programs, going right into the workforce and filling that unemployment gap right away. Which is a beautiful thing.”

Also in attendance was COA’s president Dr. Robert Wynegar and Dean of the Dare campus Timothy Sweeney, who were eager to offer their congratulations to the grads.

The visit was part of COA’s new Alumni Connect initiative that began in March.

Shen and Lugay.

So far COA has done eight other surprise visits including trips to Hockmeyer Equipment Corporation in Elizabeth City and Sumitomo Drive Technologies in Chesapeake, recognizing graduates from their Computer Integrated Machining and Welding programs.

“Some professions there’s actually a job gap where they don’t have enough people to employ with those skills. Partners like Hockmeyer are even offering scholarships now for College of the Albemarle,” said Alcocer.

During their visit to Hilton Garden Inn, COA presented Shen and Lugay with lapel pins and goodie bags.

Both Shen and Lugay hope their Hospitality and Tourism program certificates and their internships at the Hilton might lead them to careers as hotel managers.

“Maybe I’ll steal Jeremy’s job some day,” Lugay said with a smile at Jeremy Miller, General Manager of the Hilton Garden Inn.

Possible usurping aside, the Hilton is thrilled to have interns like Lugay and Shen.

“There’s a certain passion and drive that I can see in the hospitality graduates,” said Jodie O’Sullivan, Human Resources Manager for the Hilton Garden Inn.

“They are invested with their education,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re hoping to see more people that are taking these classes, and hopefully they can come here and get jobs because they completed the program there.”

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A good local program for a local industry. well done to the grads and COA.