Students in the Rosen College Chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) recently attended a regional conference in Atlanta.  Held Nov. 4 and 5, 2011, the conference connected students from the Southern and Southeastern regions of the United States.

NSMH is a nonprofit student-run professional organization that works in conjunction with its sponsors to establish a working relationship between the hospitality industry and minority students.

Just one week before the conference, Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Hilton Worldwide, Michael Ford, offered to fly each student in the chapter to and from Atlanta, and provide ground transportation from the airport to the hotel.  This resulted after a meeting with NSMH chapter President, Precious Ndebele and Vice-President, Basha Holloway, where Ford learned about the chapters’ goals and the invaluable leadership experience and opportunities that NSMH provides.

Ford stated in his letter, “Please congratulate Precious and Basha on their extraordinary job representing themselves, NSMH and their school.”

Ndebele shares her reaction to the gift, “It was unbelievable news! I certainly had to read it more than once to grasp what it entailed; indeed, who pays for 14 students to fly to and from Orlando and Atlanta a few days before traveling?”

The two-day conference included breakout sessions on: professional dress; building and managing an effective brand; interview and resume tips; and career paths in hospitality.  Keynote speaker, Maximillian L. Hamilton, the global director of multimedia sales with Black Enterprise Magazine, spoke on “The Power of Your Brand.”

Ndebele found Hamilton’s speech very inspiring. “My brand has been reinforced through this professional experience. I reinforced my tag line, ‘Service Excellence is my priority not an option.'”

Student Jessica Brown shares, “[Hamilton] mentioned one quote that remains with me – ‘It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback.’ I constantly think of that quote and try to relate it to my professional and personal development. Throughout this conference I was encouraged and inspired.”

The students also enjoyed a “Speed Workshop” where they were encouraged to ‘tweet’ their questions through Twitter to industry panelists.

A variety of companies were available at a round table session including: Aramark; Campus Group; Destination Marketing Association; Starwood Hotels; Hyatt; Sodezo; Loews Hotels; Disney; and Chick-fil-A.

In addition to industry professionals, students were also able to connect with others from universities including Florida State University, Florida International University, Tuskegee University, University of Houston, University of North Carolina, and Johnson and Wales.

Student Desiree Adams walked away from the conference with some valuable gems.  “The fourteen of us left filled with information, inspiration, and definitely some life lessons.  We are excited about the people we met, things we are striving towards, goals and objectives, and all that is left for NSMH to do. NSMH as an organization stands for opportunity and the ability to include, utilize and celebrate diversity in this wonderful industry.”

For more about NSMH, please visit  For more on NSMH at UCF, please visit their Facebook page.