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Friday, September 29, 2023

Academics & Research

Hospitality management programs create international partnership

The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management has opened new doors in Peru, giving both local and Latin American students an opportunity for first-class training in the hospitality industry.

Thirteen students from Lima, Peru walked with their fellow classmates in the college’s fall commencement ceremony in December in Houston. They became the first graduating class of the Conrad N. Hilton College-Lima, a program that was the result of an international partnership with the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola in Lima, the school where the Lima students take their first two years of classes before beginning the UH curriculum.

“That was really exciting,” said Lydia Westbrook, the director of international and external programs for the college. “There were 13 graduates, and 10 of them came up here with their families. We had a one-week program where they were able to meet some local industry people. We also took them to the Hilton Americas and the Houston Visitors Center, so they saw some of the hospitality industry that’s here in Houston.”

Westbrook said the graduates were able to meet some of the college’s professors and student ambassadors so they could get to know the campus and their school. They continued with a graduation brunch planned just for them and ended with the commencement ceremony, where they walked with the Houston graduates.

“The Conrad N. Hilton College-Lima is an important program in our goal of expanding to other regions, giving students who cannot come to Houston access to a degree from the University of Houston. The hospitality program at USIL is the best in South America, and Hilton College is among the top programs in the world. It’s the perfect partnership and an excellent opportunity for aspiring hospitality professionals in South America,” said Hilton College Dean John Bowen in a PR Newswire press release.

According to a press release, almost half of the Lima students had job offers upon graduation. Claudia Cavero, one of the 13 Lima graduates, works as an operations coordinator for U.S.-based travel agency Latin America for Less and said the two universities are a great pair.

“USIL is the best hospitality college in Peru, and I think it’s a great fit, because they really emphasize the importance of opening up to global opportunities,” Cavero said. “UH is one of the most diverse places I’ve ever been, so it really is a perfect match. I found that both colleges were on the same page as far as the hospitality industry, which reflects the academic level that these universities share.”

Westbrook said the Hilton College couldn’t be happier with the progress of the relatively young program, which will begin its fifth semester in the summer.

“Hospitality is a worldwide industry and is growing so much in Latin America,” Westbrook said. “It just seems like a nice fit.”

The Lima program is not only for students across Latin America to get an American education. American Hilton students are also invited and encouraged to study in Lima.

“We also have an exchange program with (USIL), so we aren’t just delivering the degree down there and that’s it,” Westbrook said. “Our students have the opportunity to study over there, too. They have top-notch kitchen and dining facilities, a student-run restaurant, student-run coffee shop and they even have a student-run bakery. Because of their facilities down there, it has really made it a nice match for the students to go back and forth and get the same great education. We’ve had a couple of students go and come back, and they absolutely loved it.”

Westbrook said that in addition to already having received some applications from students who want to go to Lima this fall, applications for the summer program in Cusco, Peru have begun to flow in. With this program, students can earn six elective credit hours toward their hotel and restaurant management degree. Westbrook said she expects many more students to apply for the Cusco program in the future.

The program in Peru is still new, and Westbrook said there are no plans to expand to other countries at this time. For now, she said the important thing is for the program to help students both locally and abroad to reach their goals for their future.

“It’s increasing our global footprint,” Westbrook said. “Hospitality is a global industry, so anytime that we can get a broader diversity of students either here or give our local students the opportunity to go abroad is great. That’s going to help them with their career. It’s so great because we have a solid partner over there. We are quite pleased.”

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