“LEI showed me how the industry works, and it made me more passionate about what I could accomplish,” says Lagpacan.
After graduating from the culinary program and cooking in events such as the Big Island Chocolate Festival. Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Hilo Classic Food Show and more, Lagpacan gained first-hand experience in a professional kitchen as a pastry cook at the Fairmont Orchid.
She now works at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai under executive pastry chef Kalani Garcia, making plated desserts and popular soufflé dishes.
“I have learned so much about myself, as well as different hotels and chefs,” says Lagpacan, who is a second-generation immigrant from the Philippines and is the first person in her family to attend college.
LEI is a Hawai’i Tourism Authority-sponsored workforce development program created by ClimbHl to inspire Hawai’i’s youth to pursue careers in the state’s visitor industry by providing them with the means to achieve success. The program exposes high school students to potential careers and provides college students with hands-on experience through internships. This is the 10th year of LEI events.
In April, Mauna Kea Resort hosted 60 high school and college students for Hawai’i Island’s first in-person LEI program in two years, which included a message from Lagpacan.
At the event, students learned about customer service, the job application and interview process, food and beverage, the value of the hospitality industry in Hawai’i and more. They networked with local business professionals, and participated in a 10’au and overnight stay at the resort.
LEI events were held statewide in April, reaching more than 800 students. Hawai`i businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in future LEI events by emailing info@ climbhi.org.