Alumni News

Alumnus becomes new manager of dining hall

A swamp developed in front of Cougar Woods Dining Hall. | Photos by Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Students walk into Cougar Woods dining hall, where alumnus Nikit Bhatt just became general mananger. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Two years after graduating from the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management in 2014, Nikit Bhatt is stepping up to the plate as the the new manager of the Cougar Woods Dining Hall.

Bhatt, who is currently working as a manager for the campus’ C-Stores, began his career at St. Luke’s Hospital in 2014 as part of Aramark’s “Accelerate to Leadership,” or A2L, program. While there, he managed facilities in the environmental site. 

“I always told myself I wanted to give back to the campus in some way after I graduated,” Bhatt said. “My goal here is to learn like any other student.”

Bhatt wanted to bring a sense of home to the dining halls through additional employee-student interaction and new types of service. He revealed that knowledge obtained from the labs and classes at the Hilton College prepared him for the role.

“You can’t leave here without having some experience in the industry,” said Colleen Gleeson, director of career development and placement at Hilton College, referring to the 600 hours of work experience required to graduate.

Gleeson said the hospitality industry in Houston is thriving with local businesses showing an increased interest in the Hilton College and its graduates.

At the college, students take part in programs similar or related to A2L, which usually last six to 18 months and help graduates gain work experience that can get them hired.

“Our undergraduate domestic placement rate for the fall class of 2015 was 93 percent,” Gleeson said. “I like to say if you want a job you will have one.”

Dennis Reynolds, the dean of Hilton College, said Bhatt is one of many HRM alumni impacting the industry.

“(Hilton College’s) future is indeed bright,” Reynolds said. “This is underscored by graduates such as Nikit Bhatt. I can only imagine where his career will take him.”

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