Thirteen members of the MSU chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) joined over 750 other students, alumni, and industry professionals around the country in Washington, DC February 4-7 for the NSMH 27th annual National Conference. Its theme was “Our Nation, Our House: Diversity Matters.”

The group was honored with the award for the “Largest Chapter Membership in the Midwest Region” at the Saturday evening Awards Gala titled “A Capitol Affair.”

NSMH Michigan State Chapter at the Awards Gala “A Capitol Affair” on Saturday of Conference.

NSMH Michigan State Chapter at the Awards Gala “A Capitol Affair” on Saturday of Conference. From left to right: Top: Kanmani Govardhanan, Taylor Joiner, Heqiuyi Liang, Joe Titus, Monique Zentner, Andrew Williamson, Alexa Rumsey, Rachel Bower; Bottom: Stephanie MacPherson, Karmel Ussery, Katherine Biles, Erica Gohil (Not pictured: Rosi Belisario)

NSMH Midwest Regional Chair Stephanie MacPherson (BA ’16), is also the MSU chapter’s treasurer. As a member of the National Executive Board, Stephanie is one of 16 leaders from universities all over the nation. She says that the annual conference experience this year was “truly a celebration of the beauty and strength of our diverse members, cultures, and the world we all live in.”

The conference offered the students networking suites, developmental workshops, a “resume ready room,” and a career fair with some of the top companies in the industry.

The opening session on Thursday featured more than 50 student chapters in a cultural and musical showcase. On Friday, the students attended several of the dozens of workshops and educational sessions. Particularly impressive to students from The School was a session titled “Women in Hospitality,” in which “top female executives spoke about breaking through the glass ceiling,” according to Stephanie. Another memorable session was titled “Corporate Social Responsibility and Embracing Diversity” in which industry sponsors discussed how their companies have a positive impact on the environment and the communities in which they operate.

A career fair on Saturday gave the students an opportunity to interview for internships and full-time positions, and several from the MSU chapter left the conference with offers of employment. The students travelled to the National Conference with assistance from endowments in The School, as well as generous donations from Sodexo and from Pappas Restaurants.

Stephanie explains that NSMH, both nationally and at the chapter level, is “beautifully diverse.” She says, “We pride ourselves on being focused on equal opportunity for all students to be successful in the hospitality industry and we are open to any student who believes that diversity fosters the best leadership and hospitality.”

Earlier in the academic year, The School’s NSMH members traveled to Las Vegas for the West/Midwest Regional Conference, and to Chicago to meet with members of the DePaul University NSMH and attend its Hospitality Career Fair. The chapter has also hosted speakers from Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Enterprise, Marriott International, and MGM Grand Detroit. Members have toured the Crowne Plaza Lansing and the Hyatt Place in Eastwood Towne Center, both in Lansing, MI. They have also volunteered with the Lansing City Rescue Mission, the MSU Craft Fair, and with a pre-college outreach event at Lansing’s Eastern High School. In addition, there have been numerous social and fundraising opportunities for the chapter’s members. More guest speakers are slated for the coming weeks, and the group will host a special “Hospitality Week” April 4-8.

“I am very proud of our NSMH chapter,” says Advisory Authella Collins Hawks, The School’s Student and Industry Resource Center (SIRC) director. “The students are enthusiastic and excited about our industry, and about embracing differences.”