Why Major X - Hospitality

What kind of a business student are you? The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business offers two distinct business programs, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the School of Hotel Administration. Please describe how your interests and ambitions can be met through one or both of the Schools within the College.

The hospitality business is my family business. I will be the sixth generation woman in my family to work in it. My great-great-great grandmother Fannie ran a boarding house/hotel and was renowned for her fried chicken and friendly dinner table. My great-great grandmother Edith was the lead cook and manager of the dining halls at a small college. My great-grandmother June was a terrible cook, but a fabulous hostess, so she was the front of house for the family owned diner. My grandmother Charlotte, who grew up in the diner, owns and operates a small catering business. She claims she’ll never retire. My mother, Elizabeth, who by her own admission is as bad a cook as her grandmother June, has an event planning business that specializes in up-scale weddings.

Like all the women before me, I’ve been working in the family business since I was a little girl. I started out as my “grandmother’s little helper” in the catering kitchen and progressed to working for my mother tying up “bird seed bags” for weddings. As I got a bit older and developed my social media skills, I helped promote both my grandmother’s and mother’s businesses. Now in my teens, I work part-time on weekends during the school year and full-time during the summers. Yes, it’s hard work, but I like it. I like to be busy; it keeps life interesting rather than boring. It also makes me proud to help support my family’s overall economic success.

Even still I doubt I would be so happy to work this hard if I didn’t love the work itself. Not only do I enjoy the mundane tasks that are an inevitable part of catering and event planning, I love all the creativity that it requires. What would be a menu that would work for a bar mitzvah being held on a ranch? How can we create gorgeous centerpieces for a wedding when the bride is allergic to practically every type of flower? Is there some way to do a set of Instagram posts featuring our cupcakes that doesn’t look like everyone else’s? These are just a sample of the kind of problems I’ve had to devise creative solutions for. Of course, the absolutely best part of finding those solutions is seeing the happiness it brings to our customers.

The School of Hotel Administration is where I want to complete my preparation for a career in the hospitality business because it is a place that has roots that go back nearly as far as mine and it is a place where I can take my knowledge and skills to the next level. According to the history of the school that I read, it is nearly 100 years old and got its start about the time my great-great grandmother Edith was starting her career as college cook and dining hall manager. That matters to me because I want some place that understands how important a deep history is. But it excites me that the school isn’t old-fashioned in its approach to educating hospitality professionals for the 21st century. I got a taste of its cutting edge attitude when I took the MOOC, Introduction to Global Hospitality Management, offered by Cornell through EdX. It blew my mind -- the teachers, the ideas, the online conversation. It convinced me that Cornell is the place I have to be.