A group of students from New Mexico State University’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management took home the top honor and three other awards last month during the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality conference in Houston.
The HRTM students bested 90 other chapters to win four awards, including Chapter of the Year, the most coveted award of the annual conference, which draws more than 1,000 students each year. The students also won awards honoring their president, Alyssa Adams, their social media efforts, led by Brenden Martinez, and their conference exhibit, spearheaded by Diana Cook.
Since its inception in 2005, the HRTM chapter has collected about 30 awards from NSMH.
“We are so proud of these students and what they have accomplished this year,” HRTM Director Jean Hertzman said. “Diana put together an awesome exhibit, Brenden did a great job with their social media, and Alyssa showed some great leadership skills and really brought this group together.”
HRTM college assistant professor Julie Correa, who advises the chapter, said 12 students attended the conference in February. In preparation, they raised money to pay for travel expenses and spent several weeks working on their awards entry packet, conference exhibit and scrapbook showcasing their yearly activities.
One area the students highlighted was their community outreach efforts, Correa said.
“For the last couple of years, they’ve been really good at doing at least one community service event every month,” she said. “For example, they do what we call the Sustainability Project, where they go to hotels, pick up all of the extra toiletries and take them to homeless shelters. They’ve also held a fundraiser for a young girl with autism who needed a service dog.”
While the NSMH awards competition is highly competitive and includes many larger universities from around the country, the HRTM chapter has won several top awards over its 15-year history, including Chapter of the Year in 2005. This year, the group took home the President of Year award for the first time.
Adams, an HRTM senior, said winning the recent awards was a humbling experience.
“I knew we had worked really hard for these awards,” she said. “We are a small chapter going against massive schools such as Cornell University, San Diego State University and University of Nevada, Las Vegas, just to name a few. Usually, at every conference, only the big schools win these awards. When we heard our name, it was pure joy and excitement.”
Adams, who has participated in the HRTM chapter for three years, said the group’s motto this past year was, “We’re back, and we’re better.” She said members worked to achieve three key goals, including increasing overall membership; increasing awareness of the HRTM program, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, and the Las Cruces community; and improving communication and teamwork within the chapter.
“We have achieved every goal,” Adams said. “This year, we increased membership by 35 percent and held different events throughout the year. Every single member contributed hard work and dedication. Every officer took their job seriously and was successful. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the HRTM department and, most importantly, our adviser, Julie Correa.”
Adams, who expects to graduate in December 2020, said her involvement in the chapter has helped her develop leadership skills. Moreover, she’s held leadership positions each year she’s been an active member.
“My sophomore year, I was the community service chair. This position allowed me to make an impact in the community and find a passion for giving back to others,” she said. “As president, I have learned to work with different personalities and be a role model for students. NSMH has provided me lifelong relationships and an opportunity for me to grow as a person and a leader.”
For more information about the HRTM chapter, contact Correa at email@example.com.