14th Annual SKAL Scholarship Ceremony


Four deserving students were recognized Tuesday, April 18 at Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh. The hotel recently celebrated their two-year anniversary this past January. “These past two years have flown by, but we’ve loved every minute of it.” – Christina Paonessa, Area PR Coordinator

SKAL International Pittsburgh is the local chapter of SKAL, an international organization that brings together all sectors of the travel and tourism industry. The club was founded on the premise of “professionals in travel and tourism working closely together in a spirit of friendship”. Tourism professionals working at least three years in a managerial capacity are eligible for membership. To encourage and reward promising students who have chosen the tourism/hospitality industry as their field of study, the SKAL International Pittsburgh Tourism and Hospitality Management Scholarship was instituted. Since inception, the club has been able to grant $155,000 in scholarships.

This year’s recipients were awarded $2,000 in aid and inducted as Young SKAL members. The annual Joe Kane Scholarship Golf Outing Benefit at Williams Country Club, with this year's outing occurring July 17, and is the club's primary fundraiser. The club also raises money through monthly 50/50 raffles and receives support by its generous members.

One in particular is Eddie Grimes, Good Advertising, who gives back to his Alma Mater, West Liberty University, in the form of scholarship. Eddie attributes his personal success to a scholarship he received as a student and truly feels it is an education debt of a lifetime to West Liberty that he wants to repay.

West Liberty University

Kaitlyn Gorton

Tourism and Event Management

Kaitlyn studies Tourism and Event Management at West Liberty University, and wants to pursue a career in Event Planning.

With continued steady growth predicted for tourism arrivals both domestic and international, along with increasing job opportunities expected for event planners, a major in Tourism and Event Management (TEM) can prepare students for a wide range of related careers in business, non-profit, and government organizations.

West Liberty University’s B.S.B.A. in Tourism and Event Management pairs an industry-ready set of core courses with a wide range of electives, allowing students to pursue the career path that matches their interest.

Seton Hill University

David Pearce-Smith, Tourism and Event Management

David has been working in the hospitality industry for almost a decade, and graduated from Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) with a 4.0 GPA in May of 2016. David was a member of the Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl team in 2015 earning a silver medal, and as captain in 2016 earning a gold medal. Before the end of his first year at culinary school, David obtained an internship at the internationally acclaimed Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, PA, where he worked full time for two years. He left the Duquesne Club in January of 2017 to begin a BS program in Hospitality and Tourism at Seton Hill University and is on track to graduate with a 4.0 GPA in May of 2018. During his time at WCCC and Seton Hill University, he has been involved in their respective Student Ambassador Programs. Next month David will begin work at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, PA. David has recently been admitted to the MBA program at Seton Hill University where he plans to graduate in May of 2019.

Slippery Rock University

Caroline Caridi, Resort, Recreation & Hospitality Management

The club looks for students who demonstrate the desire and potential to achieve a management level position in the hospitality and/or tourism field. This should be demonstrated by their overall effort and attitude including academic performance, attendance, cooperation, communication skills, and general spirit of hospitality and goodwill towards others. Caroline Caridi fits the bill…

Ms. Caridi is a Junior at Slippery Rock University pursuing her Resort, Recreation & Hospitality Management degree, which prepares students to meet the challenges of a hospitality, event management, or tourism career.

Caroline is on the Resort Recreation Club to strengthen her professionalism, networking, and knowledge of the hospitality and tourism industry. Also, she aspires to be an Event Planner and is particularly fond of weddings.

Pennsylvania State University

Sequoyah Rodgers, Hospitality Management; Advertising/Public Relations

Dr. Jeff Heim, Senior Instructor and Academic Adviser in the School of Hospitality and Faculty Adviser for the PSU Chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality introduced Sequoyah Rodgers.

Ms. Rodgers is a double major in hospitality management and advertising/public relations and carries a GPA of 3.4. She has spent the last two summers as an intern at Shyla Hawkins Events here in Pittsburgh, as well as an internship in 2015 in event operations at the Nittany Lion Inn, where she has excelled and received high reviews from her supervisors.

Sequoyah was recently asked to join the School of Hospitality Management Diversity Committee as its student representative, the first student to serve in this role. She is also active in the Penn State Chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, and she was just elected by representatives from over 80 schools to serve as the National Planning Director for the organization’s national board.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco

In other exciting news, the hotel was named the #2 top hotel in New York State and the Mid-Atlantic in the Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards last October.

“Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is proud to be one of the first boutique hotels to arrive in the downtown neighborhood. The hotel may be bold in its design and offerings, but the service reflects the small town, Midwestern charm that the Steel City is known for. We look forward to welcoming travelers to Pittsburgh for many years to come as the city continues to grow and be revitalized. “ – Christina Paonessa, Area PR Coordinator

Next Month

Join us next month at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport - Tuesday, May 16.

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