When guests check into the Moxy hotel, there’s a good chance they will run into Reinalyn Benvenutti, a Broward College graduate and front office manager at the eight-story, 156-room property in downtown Chicago’s vibrant gallery district.

“Things are great, I love Chicago,” said Benvenutti, whose associate degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management helped secure a job offer in May, just in time for the Marriott-brand hotel’s grand opening. “It can be a little hectic, but nothing I can’t handle.”

Since the age of 14, when she began working the drive-thru at a Steak n Shake in Coral Springs, Benvenutti has had a handle on customer service. But, despite her friendly and approachable demeanor, she wasn’t sure about a career in hospitality and tourism, even as she bounced around as a server, then a bartender at restaurants and hotels across Broward County. It wasn’t until she detoured off her original plan to a career in firefighting and enrolled at Broward College that her future began to fall into place.

Dr. Robert Donato, manager of the Hospitality and Tourism Management program, said many students who work in the industry while completing their Broward College coursework, do not realize there is a world of opportunity beyond their entry-level roles.

“Hospitality is the number one employer in almost every state,” said Donato, who anticipates even more interest in the program once plans for the R. Motwani Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Management are launched in the fall. “We have a great foundational program here that gives students insight about working in hospitality and tourism. Most of all, the curriculum prepares them to hit the ground, running in almost any service-related industry.”

Career Destinations

Janet Bandoo, revenue management, and systems pricing specialist at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, already had a job in the industry and a family to support when she decided to pursue an associate degree in hospitality and tourism. The combination of working full-time and attending classes at Broward College was not easy, but the more she learned about the industry, the more excited she got about her career potential.

When Bandoo completed her coursework at Broward College, she took advantage of an articulation agreement that enabled her to transfer to Florida International University, where she plans to complete a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management degree.

Donato said many of the graduates in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program continue their education at a four-year university. Broader scheduling options, including online, make courses for Broward College students who are working in a 24/7 industry like hospitality and tourism, that much easier to take.

Juan Carlos Tamarez
Juan Carlos Tamarez

Even though Carlos Tamarez had been paying his dues, he had little to show for the time he was putting in at the Florida Nature and Culture Center in Weston until he enrolled at Broward College in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program. As he studied toward an associate degree, Tamarez completed industry certifications — in Guest Services Specialist and Event Management and Food and Beverage Management – that are built into the program. Not only did the certificates help land him a managerial promotion at the Buddhist retreat facility, but he also figures they’ve added up to more than $7,000 in wage increases. On top of that, Tamarez received credits for his tenure at the retreat that enabled him to finish his associate degree a year in advance.

“My education was of tremendous value,” said the 42-year-old husband and father of a 10-year-old girl. “It showed my supervisors that I was serious about my career. Plus, the courses were about more than theories. My instructors really knew what they were talking about based on their own industry experiences.”

An associate degree from the   Management program at Broward College can connect students to careers in a booming industry. Learn how broad scheduling options can support students who are already working in the industry or those who want to get their feet wet.