Transformative, inspiring, and life-changing; some of the few words that define what the hospitality industry means to me. I was just a youthful, shy, and confused 16-year old teenager that didn’t know what to do in his future. At this particular age, my future was unplanned, I had no idea what I was going to do five years from then. It all changed when I chose to join the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism at Maui High School. At first, it was all new to me, I was terrified, scared of being a failure because I took a class that I had no knowledge about. During the two years of being in that class, I learned the basics of travel and tourism. I wanted more so, I decided to dig deeper and enhance my knowledge within this field of study.

After graduating in the year of 2017, I planned to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where I would obtain my bachelors degree in travel and tourism. However, life happens and unfortunate events tend to occur. UNLV did not happen but that didn’t stop me from learning more about the industry. I had a backup plan of enrolling at the University of Hawaii, Maui College (UHMC) and chose to pursue an associates degree in Hospitality and Tourism. I believe that everything happens for a reason and attending school on the island was the best decision I ever
made. During the time spent here learning more about the industry, I was able to learn more of the different aspects of the hospitality industry. For example, each course was focused on a significant area like housekeeping, front office, customer service, etc. I even get the chance to have face to face experience with the industry through site-visits at different places. The students, teachers, and mentors that I have met along the way gave me motivation to keep moving forward in the industry. At this point in time, the hospitality industry has grown into a passion. A passion because I have found a deeper meaning to the industry. Satisfying the guest, making connections, or providing excellent customer service are important but there is something that is far more meaningful. Which is inspiration. Everyone can satisfy a guest and give great customer service but it takes a leader to inspire others. I want to motivate others to never give up and always strive for bigger aspirations. I find a difference between a
manager and a leader. A manager is a person that gives orders and doesn’t really care of their employees. However, a leader is an idol. Someone who will put things in your perspective instead of just their own. They will care, nourish you, help you be better than you were yesterday. I want to be a leader.

The hospitality industry improved my leadership capabilities. Through the hospitality program at UHMC, I was able to help coordinate this year’s LEI 2019 event held at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa. I was chosen to be the mentor coordinator. My job was to recruit mentors and train them to help designate high school students to different resorts and help them learn about the industry. With my partner, we recruited 29 mentors! The most mentors ever recruited and it was a great feeling to know that. During the LEI event, I was able to obtain an internship with PSAV. I gained the confidence to “advertise” myself to them and they found me a “perfect candidate” for their event technology intern. As an event technology intern, I will be stationed at the Grand Wailea but will be working with other partnerships with the company. I am going to be learning about the different technology they use and will do hands-on projects that include setting up for the events. I am really excited to see how the internship goes because it’s a different field for me. I always thought of going into hotel management but PSAV is more of event planning. It’ll be challenging but it will be a great learning experience. This will definitely help better my future in the hospitality industry.

As you can see, the hospitality industry has had a huge impact on my life. In the past, I had no idea of what I wanted to do until I started to learn more about the industry. As of right now, I am pursuing a degree in hospitality industry and will have the opportunity to work with PSAV. Although my future is unwritten, I know for sure that I will find myself in the hospitality industry. I still have a lot to learn and experience but this is all part of the journey. It’s more than just trying to find a job now, it’s all about becoming a leader, to explore more opportunities, and to inspire others along the way. The hospitality industry was the right pathway for me.

Dean Lizada LEI 2019 Maui Op-Ed

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