Public Affairs

Hospitality Outreach Event Draws 150 Students to LA Live

December 11, 2012
By Diana Garcia

This is what 8 high schools getting together to experience LA's top hospitality venues looks like.

One hundred and fifty students from eight local high schools got an exclusive opportunity to learn about careers in the hospitality industry and how to pursue higher education during a recent outreach event at LA Live. The Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona, the CSU's Hospitality Management Education Initiative (HMEI) and the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation hosted the event.

Experience Hospitality: The Los Angeles High School Summit 2012 started Nov. 27 on the rooftop terrace of Staples Center with a keynote address from partner and executive chef of Yard House Restaurants, Carlito Jocson.

Co-founder and executive chef of Yard House, Carlito Jocson, shared his story. “It was all about inspiring,” Jocson said. “If you inspire them and they go and put forth the effort to do their best, good things will happen.”

Jocson shared a story about the challenges he faced immigrating to Southern California from the Philippines as a child. His childhood was marked with the feelings of being an outsider, but he came from a loving home where cooking together was a priority. His parents gave him exposure to many ethnic cuisines that he still draws on to this day. Students and teachers alike were moved by his passion for food, family and his faith.

“I have a Filipino student in my ProStart program who saw and heard something today that changed him,” said Donnetha Wallace, culinary arts instructor at Blair High School in Pasadena. “Now he can stand proud as a young person who wants to become a chef.”

The daylong event introduced students to the full range of CSU hospitality management programs. Students, faculty and staff from Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Northridge, San Diego State and Cal Poly Pomona’s Collins College provided information about their programs, leaving students with the understanding that an education from the CSU can lead to significant opportunities in the hospitality industry.

Joseph Martin, executive chef at the Staples Center, leads a tour during Experience Hospitality Los Angeles High School SummitLater, the students went on tours of the Nokia Theatre, Staples Center, the JW Marriott hotel and Katsuya, a downtown Japanese restaurant. A networking lunch with the city’s leading industry professionals wrapped up the day overlooking the Lakers basketball court in the San Manuel Lounge of Staples Center. The luncheon featured about three dozen executives from the JW Marriott, Hard Rock Café, Hilton Worldwide, Levy Restaurants, The Daily Grill, Marriott Bonaventure, Visit California, PKF Consulting, Sysco, Fairmont, the L.A. Tourism and Convention Board, and more.

Paulina Hurtado, a sophomore from the Applied Technology Center, a college-oriented high school in Montebello, said she benefited from the experience and is excited about pursuing a college career in hospitality.

“This was a really great opportunity because it gave us a chance to talk to these professionals that we wouldn’t have on our own,” she said.

The California Hotel & Lodging Association Educational Foundation and Levy Restaurants, which provides the food and beverage management for Staples Center and the Nokia Theater, sponsored the event.

“Experience Hospitality was made possible because all of our organizations and sponsors believe in the power of education and the need to equip young people with the tools to pursue a college education,” said Erin Mascho, HMEI program coordinator. “I hope that the students not only saw a few glamorous venues, but also understood how they could one day lead those venues if they go to college.”

Diana Garcia is the communications assistant for HMEI and a Cal Poly Pomona Communications/Public Relations class of 2012 graduate.