Officers and members of the student chapter of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) traveled earlier this month to Austin, TX for the annual “Convening Leaders” conference, and brought home the Chapter of the Year award for the fourth year in a row.  The award comes with a $1,000 check to assist with educational, community service, or membership programs and is based on overall chapter leadership, academic excellence, community and campus involvement, and membership growth.

In addition, PCMA Chapter President Jillissa Taylor (BA Hospitality Business ’17), earned the prestigious Chairmen’s Scholarship, awarded to two students each year based upon academic achievement, industry involvement, and personal essay. Jillissa’s award paid for her travel, accommodations, and conference fees as well as a scholarship for $2,500. She also attended the Chairmen’s Reception at the conference where she was interviewed and honored for her accomplishments.  Jillissa has worked with the Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association since 2014, and interned last summer in New York City with Legends Hospitality at Yankee Stadium.

With over 4,200 attendees, Convening Leaders was billed as “the definitive annual event for the business events industry,” and offered the students timely keynote speeches and dozens of educational sessions, as well as networking opportunities with alumni and other industry professionals.

Pictured are:  Back row, left-right: Elizabeth Zimmerman, Ashley Kingsbury, Michael Gonino, Abby Schultz, Andrea Ball, Maggie Smyth, Rachel Szopko, Samie Weiner; Front row, left-right: Emily Bonello, Lauren Millard, Anne Swartz, Jillissa Taylor

Back row (from left) Elizabeth Zimmerman, Ashley Kingsbury, Michael Gonino, Abby Schultz, Andrea Ball, Maggie Smyth, Rachel Szopko, Samie Weiner; Front row (from left) Emily Bonello, Lauren Millard, Anne Swartz, Jillissa Taylor

Chapter CFO Abby Schultz (MS Hospitality Business ’17) says, “Convening Leaders is not only an extremely beneficial opportunity for members of PCMA to learn about and network in the event industry; it is also a chance to become better leaders and individuals.  Many of the sessions focused on wellness, finding your purpose in business, and defining your own reality.”  She added, “Isaac Lidsky’s closing keynote challenged us to create our own success stories, no matter the challenges that come our way.”

Chapter member Michael Gonino (BA Hospitality Business ’17) was impressed with a work/life integration session presented by Gail Alofsin.  Shifting from “I have to” to “I get to” encouraged him to “really think about my life.  Life is a gift, and many people don’t get to do the things I have the opportunity to do.  So I learned to change the way I look at things.”  He also says that the session taught him ways to “avoid comparisons, nurture relationships, look beyond myself, take time for myself, and give gratitude to others.”

Chapter Director of Communications Ashley Kingsbury (BA Hospitality Business ’17) noted that making connections at the conference with so many professionals with diverse backgrounds “showed us all the possibilities available to us with degrees in Hospitality Business.”

Indeed, the students traveled to Austin assisted by scholarship funds in the School that are earmarked for student travel to industry conferences and other educational programs.  This positive culture in the School reinforces the partnership that has long existed between the School and the many segments of the hospitality industry.

“Attending PCMA Convening Leaders allowed me to connect with professionals in the industry, learn how to better myself as an employee, citizen, student, and future professional, and opened my eyes to all of the career possibilities in the events industry,” says Elizabeth Zimmerman (BA Hospitality Business ’18).

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