On Thursday, July 3, a group of young students participating in the ZORA!™ STEM Summer Camp visited UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management to learn about career paths in hospitality and tourism, an industry that makes a $54 billion economic impact on Central Florida.

As part of its corporate social responsibility initiative, Discover Tourism, Visit Orlando partnered with the Preserve Eatonville Community to incorporate behind-the-scenes tours at various hospitality venues for the organization’s STEM Summer Camp program. Students visited the Orange County Convention Center to learn more about the meetings aspect of the tourism industry and walked the expansive building floor. Their journey continued at Rosen College where they took part in a hands-on napkin folding activity and food science demonstration.

“These types of programs open youth’s eyes to the variety of careers available in travel and tourism,” said Kristin Rothbauer, community relations manager for Visit Orlando. “The interactive experiences leave lasting impressions and help the students find a potential niche within an industry that they might not have known otherwise. Rosen College is a perfect fit to show the importance of pursuing a degree in hospitality management and how it can lead to future success.”

Although the connection between STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – and hospitality may not seem obvious, these technical disciplines are essential in building and maintaining the facilities where guests stay, dine, relax and create lasting memories.

“…The hospitality industry [includes] theme parks, hotels, restaurants, cruises and event planning,” said Dr. Anne Albright, on-site coordinator for the ZORA!™ STEM Summer Camp who accompanied the students during their visit. “When we look at these places, we have an opportunity to also consider the STEM professionals who helped build and work in these places [like the] engineers and architects who build these structures, food scientists, etc.”

Rosen College frequently hosts young student groups like the ZORA!™ STEM Summer Camp to introduce them to hospitality-related careers and encourage them to take positive steps as they continue through school.

“It’s important to get young students excited about hospitality because the career options are abundant in Florida, especially Orlando,” said Genyth Travis, senior assistant director, UCF Undergraduate Admissions. “It’s our hope that when students visit [our] campus that we’ve encouraged them to get good grades, stay out of trouble, inspired future careers in the hospitality industry and encouraged them to return to UCF to earn a college degree.”

Click here to view more photos from the ZORA!™ STEM Summer Camp’s visit to Rosen College.