Jeremiah Perez-Torres went from barely finishing high school to excelling in his academic pursuits. He recently received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and has also earned the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for his outstanding performance and contributions to Buffalo State. In the fall, Jeremiah will begin a doctoral program with the goal of working in homeland security and counterterrorism.
“I really treasure Buffalo State because these amazing things have happened to me here,” he said. “No matter where I go in life, I know I am prepared. Because I have been taught well and given many opportunities, I’m ready for the world.”
The Hotel Henry Urban Resort and Conference Center, which opened to the public May 1 in the iconic Richardson Olmsted Complex, will offer more than upscale lodging and dining. It also will provide real-world experience for Buffalo State upperclassmen majoring in hospitality and tourism.
Students in Rebecca Tate’s Industry Experience course will work with guests in the 88-bed hotel and handle food service in the adjoining restaurant, 100 Acres: The Kitchens at Hotel Henry. The hotel, which features a grand ballroom and conference rooms, is located adjacent to the Buffalo State campus.
Through this new SUNY-accredited course in experiential learning, students will learn the ropes of catering and the sales and marketing sides of the business. Tate, who serves as the faculty director, will teach her weekly lecture inside the hotel and have an office onsite.
Hotel Henry principals Eugene and Diana Principe, who have served as adjuncts within the Hospitality and Tourism Department for almost a decade, approached the college about forming a partnership. The couple also owns and operates the Mansion on Delaware Avenue.
“We’re creating a new professional development site for our students where they can experience firsthand operations of a hotel,” Diana Principe said. “There are not a lot of opportunities like this for students.”
James Mayrose, dean of the School of the Professions, had previously expressed an interest in providing a practicum for students preparing for careers in the hotel industry similar to the one offered by Campus House for students readying themselves for the restaurant field.
Each semester, Tate and Principe will select 10 students and three alternates to be integrated with the paid Hotel Henry staff. Students will be expected to exhibit the same level of professional service, Principe said.
“We are interviewing students now for the fall course,” Tate said. “There is a high demand (for spots), and we have high expectations.”
To qualify, students must be a junior or senior full-time hospitality and tourism major in good academic standing. They must complete an essay on why they want to participate in the Hotel Henry experience and provide a resume and two letters of reference. They also have to be available to commit 200 hours per semester to work in the hotel.
In the fall, students work through five rotations: rooms division, food and beverage, catering and conference services, sales, and marketing. In the spring, the same group of students will concentrate on their favorite area. The better the students perform in the first semester, the more likely they are to get their first choice of concentration the second semester, Tate noted.
“We are so excited to have entered into this collaboration with Buffalo State,” Principe said. “It expands the offerings and elevates the status of the college’s excellent hospitality program as it provides unique experiential learning opportunities for students.”
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