Florida International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management awarded 18 of their top alumni with the very first Rising Star Awards during the first on campus alumni reunion in the school’s 47-year history. The alumni all graduated after the year 2000 and are top in their field in every aspect of the hospitality and tourism industry, from Beverage Management, to Hotel Management to Cruise Management and Restaurant Ownership and Operations.
“We’re proud of our alumni and all that they have accomplished,” said FIU Professor Emeritus Rocco M. Angelo, who hosted the event, with Interim Dean Michael Cheng and distinguished alumnus, Burt Cabañas, who graduated from FIU’s Chaplin School in 1976. Cabañas is the founder of BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company. Today, BENCHMARK® has a portfolio of more than 80 unique hotels, resorts and conference centers globally.
The Rising Star Awards also resulted in the school’s first official alumni reunion on campus. FIU Chaplin School grads who were honored and their families gathered at the Biscayne Bay Campus for an afternoon of delicious food, catered by various school alumni, including Alex Kuk, BS ’04 and MS ’08, who is co-owner of Temple Street Eatery in Ft. Lauderdale. “I think it’s great that we are going to have an annual alumni reunion at the school, this way we can showcase the progress of the school, the students, the faculty and remind alumni that investing in the school means to invest in the future of our industry,” said Kuk, who received the Chaplin School Service Award for his efforts in bringing attention to the school’s alumni and giving back to current students.
“People don’t realize how extensive our alumni network is at the Chaplin School and how many C-Suite level and industry leaders attended our school,” said Interim Dean Michael Cheng.
The Rising Stars Award Winners, listed in alphabetical order, are:
-Amanda Bates, ’13, is the Area Manager for Transatlantic Spirits Division at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and recipient of the Rising Stars Beverage Management Award.
-Dr. Lisa Cain, MS ’12, is an Assistant Professor at the Chaplin School and recipient of the Rising Star Hospitality Educator Award.
-Sagine Delly, ’11 MS ’12, is the General Manager of Diamond Resorts Orlando and recipient of the Rising Star Hotel Management Award.
-Kelsey Anne Dunning ’12, is the Project Manager for North America Oracle and recipient of the Rising Star Hospitality Technology Award.
-Ryan Egozi, ’06, is Director of Operations at SuViche Hospitality Group and recipient of the Rising Star Restaurant Corporate Management Award.
-Xuefei (Margaret) Fan, ’10 and MS ’12, is Manager of Talent Operations at Royal Caribbean Cruises and recipient of the Rising Star Cruise Line Management Award.
-Astrid Garcia, ’12, is the Managing Director South USA at Liberty International Tourism Group and recipient of the Rising Star Event Management Award.
-Liudmila Katsiak, ’15, is the Hotel Feasibility & Strategic Insight Analyst of Host Hotels & Resorts and the recipient of the Rising Star Hotel Development Award.
-Alex Kuk, ’04 and MS ’08, is Co-Owner of Temple Street Eatery in Fort Lauderdale and recipient of the Rising Star Chaplin School Service Award.
-Matthew Kuscher, ’00, is Owner of Kush Hospitality and recipient of the Rising Star Restaurant Entrepreneurship Award.
-Seth McDaniels, ’16, is Director of Operations of Openings & Transitions at Hyatt Lifestyle Hotels & Resorts and recipient of the Rising Star Corporate Hotel Management Award.
-Marla Oliu, ’09 and MS ’13, is Manager of Campus Recruitment Programs for Hilton Latin America and Caribbean and recipient of the Rising Star Human Resources Award.
-Nashara O’Reilly-Frazier, ’00, is Director of Market Management at Expedia and recipient of the Rising Star Travel and Tourism Management Award.
-Luis Rivera, ’15 and MBA ’19, is Rooms Operation Manager and handles Operations Support Resources, Americas at Marriott International and recipient of the Rising Star Hotel Rooms Division.
-Shaneil Sibblies, ’07, is President of Style Catering and recipient of the Rising Star Catering Management Award.
-John Simpson, ’18, is Director of Revenue Management for Highgate Hotels and recipient the Rising Star Revenue Management Award.
-Harvinder Singh, MS ’09, is the Director of Food & Beverage at the Palm Beach Marriott on Singer Island and recipient of the Rising Star Hotel Food & Beverage Management Award.
-Frank Zeng, MS ’14, is the Manager of Hotel Finance and Support Business at SBE Hospitality and recipient of the Rising Star Hotel Finance Award.
The afternoon of celebration afforded guests the chance to enjoy various food stations and hors d’oeuvres, drinks and music, while sharing stories and memories about their days at the Chaplin School. After the awards, school mascot, Roary, and the FIU cheerleaders pumped up the crowd while carrying over-sized paper head cutouts of the award winners. Everyone laughed and cheered with some heard saying, “I can’t wait until next year.”
The second annual Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management Rising Stars Alumni Awards ceremony and alumni reunion is scheduled for Sunday, November 22, 2020.
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