UH Hilton shows campers hospitality
High school seniors got the chance to tour Houston venues, cook with top chefs and ask themselves whether a culinary career path is right for them.
The Conrad N. Hilton’s Summer Hospitality Industry Camp targets high school seniors interested in the hospitality industry. The agenda includes three days of Houston venue tours, guest lectures and hands-on experiences with the University.
"It was really helpful to help me plan a career path: Just hearing from the people who are actually in the field and looking around and seeing what my potential is and what I can aspire to be," Creekview High School senior Maria Yanez said.
For the past four years, the camp yielded enrollment rates as high as 60 percent for the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. The Hilton College’s Director of Enrollment Danny Arocha attributes the camp’s success to its showcase of Hilton College’s first-name-basis connections to the Hilton of America and its introduction to Houston hospitality venues.
"They know there’s opportunities to go into different aspects of it," Arocha said.
Students also attended a pizza party at the University Center Games Room, spent a couple of nights at the Moody Towers and took tours of the Hilton College and UH campus.
Campers split into teams to set up a chicken dinner prepared by Hilton College’s executive chef Abbas Jaffari.
"I want to become a chef and pass my knowledge onto someone else, because that’s what he did for us," Robyn Hamilton, a Barbara Jordan High School for Careers senior, said.
Campers received off-campus tours of hospitality facilities at Minute Maid Park, the Hilton of America and the Southwest Foodservice Expo. Students attended lectures from industry professionals and ate lunch with several Hilton of America employees.
Hilton College Dean John Bowen and professor James Wortman spoke about the diverse careers in the hospitality industry and the opportunities offered, and relayed to students how things work in the professional atmosphere of the Conrad N. Hilton College.
"We treat you like the adults that you wanted to be treated like," Wortman said.
Even though camp events didn’t give home-schooled senior Caitlin Bayer insight into what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, they allowed her to get a better idea of the dynamic of working in a kitchen.
"I’m still not sure what I want to do personally, but the camp has shown me a lot about the industry and how to survive in it." Bayer said. "What was nice about it is that you get to try, and if you don’t like it, it’s not too late,"