Trevor Sorbo is not the typical college student. The 16-year-old is making his mark at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management by engaging professors, conducting research, striving for honors and proposing new industry technologies.
The Hospitality Management major is focusing on Theme Park and Attractions Management. After to a family visit to Walt Disney World, he realized a passion for the industry and desire to participate in behind-the-scenes operations. “No other college has a theme park track! If I become a manager at Walt Disney World or any hospitality organization, I know I will love my job,” describes Sorbo.
With a father in the Air Force, Sorbo was homeschooled since kindergarten. In high school, he participated in dual-enrollment opportunities, graduated early and moved on to Daytona State College at the age of 14. The community college experience prepared him for instruction at UCF, the nation’s second largest university.
He currently lives at home in Oviedo and feels fortunate that UCF is in his back yard. “I am getting great classroom learning from seasoned professionals, unparalleled research opportunities and awesome industry connections,” shares Sorbo.
His research interests include technology and its applications for the hospitality industry. He designed a theme park scavenger hunt mobile app for his Guest Services class, and is further developing the business model and concept for his Theme Park & Attractions Management class.
Simultaneously, he is working with Professor Elise Enloe to generate a proposal to present at The Special Event 2012 on technology tools for event professionals. Enloe describes it as “a presentation that gives old dogs new tricks.” The two connected when Sorbo took a class taught by Enloe last fall. Impressed with his teach-back on an Event Technology chapter, he was invited to present to other sections of her class. During the Spring 2011 semester, Enloe invited him back, not as a student, but as a guest speaker.
More recently, Sorbo presented with student Allyssa Anderson and mentor Dr. James Hogg during UCF’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence. Their topic was “Mobilizing Your Marketing and Commerce Strategies: A Research Study to Inform the Hospitality Industry.” Although in the beginning stages of research, the next steps include surveying event attendees and developing strategies that professionals can use to easily create 21st century events. “The technology exists and the professionals exist, and we are providing the bridge between them,” describes Sorbo.
Once he has obtained the required amount of upper-division courses, Sorbo plans to apply for the Honors in the Major, an undergraduate thesis program run by the Burnett Honors College. Additionally he strives to participate in the Research and Mentoring Program (RAMP) with Dr. Hogg, and complete a thesis.
Striking a balance between his studies and professional life, Sorbo works in the industry as a front desk agent at the Holiday Inn UCF and considers picking up a seasonal theme park job this summer. “I know that my job is to make people happy and I cannot think of a better answer to the question ‘what do you do?’” shares Sorbo.
He credits teamwork from classmates and teachers that care as the most important ways Rosen College helps him succeed. He plans to stay with Rosen College for a master’s degree upon graduation by the age of 20, with the eventual goal of holding an executive position within the hospitality industry.
Rosen College is delighted to recognize Sorbo as a bright, up-and-coming researcher, scholar and professional — and one to definitely follow.