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Hospitality students win four national awards

NSMH recognized for membership, publicity, highest GPA, and most travel

The recent storm that blanketed the Northeast with snow left a group of students from the School of Hospitality Administration stranded in Dallas. But for the members of BU’s National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, Dallas was a very good place to be.

BU’s NSMH chapter brought back four national awards, plus three individual scholarships, from this year’s national conference, held from February 9 to 12. The group defended three of its titles from the previous year, winning awards for best membership drive, best publicity, and highest individual GPA; this year, it also won most-traveled chapter.

“It was quite the trip,” says Justin Yu (SHA’07), the chapter president. “It made for a pretty good year.”

The 47 BU representatives attending the conference — 20 more than last year —spent the weekend learning from industry professionals and participating in workshops such as Being Ethical on the Job and Event Planning 101. The group won the membership award for recruiting and retaining the most members in the past year — there are currently more than 100, up 92 percent from last year — as well as best publicity, for actively promoting NSMH on the local and national levels, and most-traveled, for taking more educational trips at least two hours away than any other chapter.

In addition, three students — Yu, Joy Nowak (SHA’06), and Heather Schell (SHA’09) — were awarded academic scholarships by participating hotel and restaurant companies.

The idea behind the organization, Yu says, is to help students meet other minorities in the hospitality industry and build contacts and networking opportunities for summer jobs or careers after graduation. “This conference is a great way to get your name and résumé out there and increase your networking skills,” he says.

BU’s chapter is among the largest in the country. Members work with SHA faculty and alumni to plan events, such as site visits, that give students an inside view of the hospitality industry. This year, students have visited the Ritz-Carlton and the State Room in Boston, as well as the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan. Other events included a Dress Etiquette workshop, which explained the difference between “business casual” and “business professional” attire, and a preview tour of Boston’s new Convention and Exhibition Center, scheduled to open this summer.

While NSMH was initially founded to help minority students, membership is open to anyone. “It’s evolved,” says past president Priya Sridhar (SHA’06). “We welcome everybody.”