USC’s MS in Hospitality & Tourism, Reinvigorating Professionals Across the Industry

USC’s MS in Hospitality and Tourism students are professionals across the industry, from hotel management, events, entertainment, and food and beverage. Below, students in the program’s inaugural class share the key reasons they decided to pursue a graduate degree from USC.

Heather Heleloa

Heather Heleloa

Director of Sales and Marketing at THE RANCH, Anaheim, CA

Heather Heleloa’s passion for hospitality and tourism began with a number of roles that taught her “the value of care and attention for guests and for fellow teammates.” She is inspired by an industry that puts people first. “No matter your position as a hospitality and tourism professional, we can all make a positive impact with a thoughtful greeting, warm reception, and intentional care.”

Jon Glidewell

Jon Glidewell

Regional Manager at Beachcomber Hotel Group, Fort Bragg, CA

The idea of helping people led John Glidewell to the hospitality and tourism industry. He anticipates the immense disruption the industry is undergoing will “transform how business is conducted… [and] facilitate unity between those who strive to see the best in all that is around us.”

Sonya Carey

Sonya Carey

Administrative Services Coordinator at Listen & Love University, Los Angeles, CA

MSHT coursework has already helped Sonya Carey’s career, applying research methods learned in class to her work. In addition, an MSHT from USC “will allow me to pursue positions in my field that can make an impact on policy and procedures within [food and beverage].”

Glenna Fulks

Glenna Fulks

Chief Connecting Officer & Experiential Curator at Kite Meeting Management, Piqua, OH

Glenna Fulks has been a hospitality professional for 20 years and is the owner of a meeting planning company. “The hospitality game has changed and the MSHT curriculum is forcing me out of my comfort zone to develop new skills, namely the strategy of evaluating possibilities, and doing it quickly.”

Sandon Brady

Sandon Brady

Planning Manager at BCD Travel, Los Angeles, CA

After losing his job during the pandemic, Sandon Brady wanted to focus on his education. “USC, and their stellar reputation for networking and education, had always been a place that I thought about applying. Sometimes it takes a real crisis to push you to do something. [It] has reinvigorated me for the future.”

The Draw to Hospitality and Tourism

MSHT students come from diverse backgrounds across the hospitality and tourism industry. Each has a story of how their passion for this field led them to USC’s MSHT program. “Travel is a passion of mine so I always wanted to find a job where I could explore and learn. In hospitality and tourism, you get exposure to so many diverse people, places, and ideas” shares Sandon Brady.

Hospitality and tourism is an industry that relies on human touchpoints. As the industry progresses and adopts emerging technologies, Glenna Fulks believes that technology will never fully replace a human connection. “Possessing a servant’s heart is still the vital element necessary to be successful in the hospitality industry.”

What better time than now?

One recurring theme among the students about starting a master’s program was the sentiment “what better time than now?” Many students feel that a master’s degree in this field will open up better job prospects, better pay, and help them compete for top positions within the industry.

On choosing to pursue a master’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism during challenging times, MSHT student Heather Heleloa explains that the hospitality and tourism industry has previously proven resilient throughout times of uncertainty. Jon Glidewell agrees, “Tourism is a major driver of socioeconomic development and is responsible for one in five jobs worldwide.”

Applied learning

The MSHT program at USC was developed with an applied curriculum. Students can apply the lessons they learn from their professors and peers immediately to their current roles. “This program helps me to recognize and discern opportunities for improvement in both the big picture and the small details,” says Heleloa, illuminating the benefits of learning from peers and the scholar-practitioner faculty shaping the MSHT program.

Fulks felt that she needed new skills as a result of the evolving industry landscape. To meet her event clients’ needs, “I’m being pushed out of my comfort zone using new tools that convey ideas more clearly and quickly, using greater efficiencies of scale to create that bigger, bolder impact.” In addition, Brady was introduced to how to use data and research effectively to further his business goals.

Due to how the industry has adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is also an incredible time for innovation and development in the hospitality and tourism industry. As Sonya Carey says, “I have loved seeing an increase in the use of technology. While this industry is a people business, the use of contactless and more convenient technologies has been great to see.”

The MSHT coursework also helped Carey with the idea for her cookbook, Make It or Bake It: Recipes for Transitioning Foster Youth. “When I looked at the [Capstone] curriculum… I realized I would have to think of an innovative idea or build on an existing one.” Carey wrote the cookbook to help foster youth transition into adult life.

Pursuing an MSHT from USC

In addition to taking advantage of the timing to pursue a master’s degree, students noted that they were most interested in the career advancement opportunities presented by the MSHT program. “USC has an unrivaled reputation and network of professionals. With a Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism from USC, I hope to expand my opportunities in the industry to meet my future career goals” explained Heleloa. Glidewell echoed the sentiment and added that a master’s degree from USC would put him in the best position to market his professional skills.

Are you ready to take the next steps to advance your career advancement? Learn more about USC’s MS in Hospitality and Tourism program.

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