“Even my parents wondered where I was going, they couldn’t believe I was working the day after graduation,” says Naka`ahiki-Young.
He had interned with Marriott during his junior and senior years in various roles as part of Kaua`i High School’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism program.
After pursuing postsecondary studies and professional interests in nursing and football in Chicago and Hawai`i. Naka`ahiki-Young became the recreational supervisor at the Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort in November. He expects to graduate from Kauai Community College in the fall.
“I was inspired by my older sister’s experience in the AOHT program under the guidance of business teacher Charlene Navarro, so I thought I would give hospitality a try,” he says. “Ms. Navarro encouraged me to participate in the ClimbHI LEI (Leadership, Exploration, Inspiration) program. That’s where I made my first connection with Marriott. Things took off from there.”
LEI is a Hawaii Tourism Authority-sponsored workforce development project created by ClimbHI to inspire Hawaii’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, the Royal Sonesta hosted more than 110 high school students for Kaua`i’s first in-person LEI program in two years, which included a video welcome by Naka`ahiki-Young. The fast-paced schedule of activities included an Amazing Race-style competition, during which 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 also attended a luncheon and career fair, where they networked with local business professionals.
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.