Phil Miller Legacy Update: We need your Support!

We all have many challenges and priorities connected to the Pandemic. Nevertheless, sometimes I find my mind drifting to remembering Phil Miller and his untimely departure from our CHS family

This crisis will end at some point and so I still think long term and how to keep the legacy of Phil alive and to sustain our Hotelie culture. Click YOU NEED TO MEET PHIL MILLER as a reminder of how Phil inspired us all.


There were two funding initiatives created in memory of Phil to further his tireless effort on behalf of the students. They are called The Phil Miller Hotelie for Life Prize and the Phil Miller Legacy. Both of these programs are already launched and supporting deserving students and future Hotelie Ambassadors.

The Phil Miller Hotelie for Life Prize

This special prize is awarded to graduating seniors in the SHA. This year, one senior recipient was selected to receive a $10,000 cash prize. Four Semi-finalists also received a monetary award of $1000 each. Moreover, all finalists are awarded a Life-Time Membership in the Cornell Hotel Society and are asked to serve as ambassadors for CHS as they pursue their respective careers.

Click HOTELIE FOR LIFE for background on awardee,  Chloe Jones and Phil’s Legacy initiatives.


The Philippus Miller III Legacy Endowment

This endowment is designed to recognize and celebrate Phil’s legacy as a builder of networks and relationships. The purpose is to provide one or more Hotel School students an opportunity to attend one of the several major CHS events held around the world. The grant is intended to offset the costs of travel, lodging and event registration so that recipients can fully engage with alumni and other attendees.

Covid-19 has forced suspension of CHS gatherings for the foreseeable future. However, our successful fundraising to date ensures that monies are available to support these students when in-person events resume.

This year’s recipients of the Legacy Award are:

Alice Navadeh, ‘21

Colette Repisky, ‘22 


Fundraising to Date

With University matching funds, our initial goal is to raise a total of $250,000 over 5 years for each initiative, so $500,000 overall. Success in this endeavor would endow both programs in perpetuity. We are off to a strong start, having raised over 60% of the necessary monies so far to support these initiatives, which qualify for the 1 for 3 S C Johnson matching funds.


We Still Need your Support!

If you have already contributed to one or both of these initiatives, we thank you!

Since this is a 5-year stretch of fundraising, we urge you to begin or continue your support with a contribution this year.


Feel free to forward this to friends of Phil and the SHA. We Need to Meet or exceed our goal to support the next generation of Hotelies!


Joe Lavin ‘75

Phil Miller Legacy Committee

2020 Philippus Miller III ‘83 Legacy Award Winners

In 2019 the Cornell Hotel Society established the Philippus Miller III ‘83 Legacy Award.  The award was designed to recognize and celebrate Phil Miller’s legacy as a builder of networks and relationships.  For decades Phil was the heart of the Cornell Hotelie for Life® that is the foundation of the Cornell Hotel Society (CHS).  The award is given to students that demonstrate an understanding of the spirit of Phil Miller – the importance of connecting and giving back.

The inaugural winners of the award in 2020 were Colette Repisky ‘22 and Alice Navadeh ’21.

About Colette Repisky ‘22

Even before enrolling as a student of the Cornell Hotel School, Colette was able to experience the power of the Hotelie network.  Colette started her college career at the University of Tampa, but knew she wanted to transfer to the Hotel School.

Before her official enrollment at Cornell, Collette volunteered to work at HEC 93 and 94, and attended the HEC event during homecoming in the fall of 2018.  While working HEC 94, Colette met and received advice from several alumni that were very impressed with her spirit, and desire to network.  One alumnus, Samuel Eisenman ’13, not only provided guidance on how to ensure her admittance to the school, he also offered Colette a job.

Since entering the Hotel School in the fall of 2019, Colette has continued to leverage the Hotelie network.  To find a job for the summer of 2020, Colette initially reached out to Tony Capuano ’87, who in turn referred her to David Pollin ’90.  David was impressed enough to offer Colette a summer job with PM Hospitality.  Unfortunately, the opportunity at PM Hospitality was cancelled due to COVID-19, so Colette reached out to a fellow Hotelie that was supposed to intern at the Gurney’s Resort on Long Island.  While no formal internships were available, Colette’s perseverance landed her a job at Gurney’s working in the restaurant.  One day at work Colette had the opportunity to spend a full hour with John Meadow ’02, principal of Scarpetta Beach, the restaurant within Gurney’s.  Once again, Colette was so impressed with amount of time a Hotel School alumnus would spend one-on-one with a student.

Colette is very comfortable reaching out to Hotel School alumni and has taken advantage of the CHS alumni directory on multiple occasions.  Colette had the opportunity to meet Ali Hoyt ’12 with STR, who then arranged for Colette to speak with fellow STR colleague Jan Freitag ’97.  While talking over the phone, Jan learned of Colette’s interest in travel, so he put her in contact with his classmate, Christina Foerster ’97 who sits on the board of directors of Lufthansa Airways.

As a winner of the Philippus Miller III ‘83 Legacy Award, Colette will have the opportunity to meet more Hotel School alumni during the CHS EMEA Regional Meeting scheduled for February 2021 in Rome.  She is eager to experience firsthand how powerful the global network is outside the United States.

Colette plans to focus on marketing during her remaining two years.  If you are a Hotelie in sales and marketing, be on the lookout for a call from Colette.

Picture below:  Four Hotelies spent the summer of 2020 working at Gurney’s Resort on Long Island.  Colette is second from the right.

 About Alice Navadeh ’21

Alice Navadeh ’21 was young and with her family driving through the Finger Lakes region during a summer vacation.  Dad made a wrong turn, and suddenly the family was lost on the campus of Cornell University.  “Wow, there’s the Cornell Hotel School”, mom exclaimed from the front seat.  Although mom’s enthusiasm was quickly forgotten, that was Alice’s first exposure to the home of Hotelies.

While growing up near Pittsburgh, Alice served as a waitress at the age of 16.  During this job she became aware of her love of food and beverage, as well as the joy she received being around people.  It was only natural that when applying for college, it was the hospitality programs that attracted her.

Alice’s older brother was enrolled at the Cornell ILR School when she began the college application process.  Because her brother was enjoying Cornell, she looked at the University website and quickly noticed the references to the Hotel School.  Flashbacks of her that family vacation filled her mind.

Alice’s initial application was met with a deferred acceptance, so she spent her freshman year at Penn State.  Although she enjoyed her time at Penn State and made several good friends, she could not turn down the opportunity to pursue her passion for hospitality.  Alice enrolled in the Hotel School for her sophomore year, and just completed her junior year in May of 2020.

Taking advantage of the school’s placement office, Alice has obtained two summer jobs with companies that have strong alumni ties.  Between her sophomore and junior years, Alice worked in San Francisco with Bay Clubs.  At the SHA Career Fair her junior year, Alice found a job with Delaware North to work in the Human Resources department at Shenandoah National Park during the summer of 2020.  Unfortunately, her HR opportunity was eliminated because of COVID related cutbacks.  However, Delaware North saw Alice’s talents and enthusiasm and offered her the opportunity to work as a “floater” across many departments in the park.  Before the summer would end, Alice found herself being promoted to a management position in the Food and Beverage department.

Concurrent with her time at Shenandoah, Alice leveraged her personal network of friends at Cornell to find a part-time job strategically placing internet ads on Google on behalf of a non-profit promoting early heart screening for kids.  When she is not encountering bears in the backwoods of Shenandoah, Alice drives to the local Dunkin Donut to take advantage of the internet and work on her Google ad assignments.  She has found working with a nonprofit and being in charge of $10,000 a month in Google Ad grant money to be extremely satisfying.

Beyond graduation, Alice is open to any area within hospitality, as long as she gets to “be with people and help people.”  Consistent with this ethos, her greatest interests lie in Human Resources and Food and Beverage.  Accordingly, Alice has struck up a strong relationship with Heather Jacobs ’94, Senior Vice President of People and Culture at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.  They met during a meeting of the Female Leadership in Hospitality Club.  Alice has been very impressed, and thankful, for all the one-on-one time Heather has given to her over the years, both on campus and over the phone.

Part of her reward for winning the Phil Miller III ’83 Legacy Award is a trip to New York in November of 2020 to participate in all the alumni events related to HX: The Hotel Experience convention.  Alice hopes that her return to Ithaca in the fall of 2020 is both successful and healthy enough to allow her to continue to experience the strong Hotelie network in New York.

Below, Alice (on the right) celebrates virtual HEC 95 in the spring of 2020.

* * *

The Cornell Hotel Society and Cornell Hotel Foundation congratulate Colette and Alice, and welcome them to the Hotelie for Life® network. This interview was conducted by Robert Mandelbaum ’81.

Chloe Jones ‘20 Philippus Miller III ‘83 Hotelie for Life® Prize Winner

Everyday, hundreds of Hotelies enter Statler Hall under the famous quote from Ellsworth Statler:

“Life is service – the one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow men a little more – a little better service.”

Since childhood, “life is service” has been imbedded in the soul of Chloe Jones ’20.  By living the “life is service” ethos during her four years at the Hotel School, Chloe was selected as the 2020 winner of the inaugural Philippus Miller III ’83 Cornell Hotel Society (CHS) Hotelie for Life® Senior Prize.  The $10,000 award is granted to the best all-around Hotel School senior who demonstrates and embraces what it means to be a Hotelie for Life®.  The award is named after Philippus Miller ’83 who had an illustrious career of facilitating relationships among Hotel School students, faculty and alumni.  Phil served as director of alumni affairs at the Hotel School and founded the executive search firm Philippus Miller III and Associates.

A self-described “people person”, Chloe matches the amiable qualities of Phil Miller.  From an early age, Chloe knew she wanted to be a front-of-the-house person interacting with people face-to-face.  Being buried back-of-the-house (except in the kitchen, of course) was not the way she wanted to spend her career in the hospitality industry.

Chloe fell in love with the hospitality industry as her family traveled across the country and stayed in hotels.  She loved congregating with people at the sugary morning breakfast buffet and dreamed of operating her own property one day.  At home, food was an important part of her family.  Her desire to organize her own birthday parties was an early indicator of Chloe’s passion for event planning.

Chloe learned about the Hotel School from family friend Tim Loughman ’83.  This was her first exposure to the Hotelie network.  During her visit to campus Chloe was able to attend a Hotel School information session.  She was very impressed with the passion of the student ambassadors, as well as the beauty of Statler Hall and Hotel.  This person-to-person engagement with the ambassadors made a strong impression on Chloe.  She too would become an ambassador a few years later and enjoy the opportunity to tout the virtues of the Hotel School.

Once on campus, Chloe was a die-hard Hotelie with a deep love for the hospitality industry and Hotel School.  Initially she loaded up on courses related to her passions for food and beverage, as well as event planning.  However, she does admit that some of her favorite courses were taken outside of Statler.  Chloe ventured across campus to take classes in environmental science, Shakespeare, and the Italian Mafia.  Sustainability is an area of personal interest for Chloe.  She is very concerned about the health of the world’s oceans and American agriculture.

By taking classes outside of Statler, Chloe began to understand that the “life is service” education she received in the Hotel School was not restricted to implementation solely within the hospitality industry.  It could be applied across all businesses and aspects of life.  This awareness helped her develop her thoughts on the positive role the Hotel School could play within the S.C. Johnson College of Business, and acceptance of the fact that not all Hotelies are interested in people-facing careers directly within the hospitality industry.

That being said, Chloe has been true to her heart, and took on summer jobs that filled her thirst to be out in front with the hotel guests.  She lived in, and worked in, a small hotel in England for two summers where she performed all roles from housekeeper to server.  In between her junior and senior years Chloe was fortunate to get an intense immersion of guest service at the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Chloe impressed her employer so much that she received an offer from Four Seasons to join their management training program (in operations of course) upon graduation.

Despite being a people person, Chloe admits that she was not the best networker entering Cornell.  However (paraphrasing Chloe), “after four years at the Hotel School, you can’t help but get involved with the alumni network.”  One of the greatest lessons she learned from an alumnus was the need to be flexible.  Being a planner by nature, she understands that environments change, and you need to adapt.

Her ability to adapt has been tested in 2020.  Because of the COVID pandemic, on-campus classes were suspended, and her employment with Four Seasons has been postponed.  Chloe has adapted by staying in Ithaca to finish her senior year on-line.  It was a struggle to be away from her family, but everyone understood that it was healthier for her to stay in less-densely populated Ithaca, as compared to the virus-stricken Westchester County.

While spending time in Ithaca, Chloe has furthered her knowledge of Cornell.  During her research she uncovered text from a letter sent by Willard Straight to his son with an inspiring message that is very applicable during the spring of 2020.

“‘Treat all women with courtesy. The respect of your fellows is worth more than applause. Understand and sympathize with those who are less fortunate than you are. Make up your mind but respect the opinions of others. Think it out yourself guided by the choice of those whom you respect. Hold your head high and keep your mind open, you can always learn.'”

The COVID pandemic also caused the postponement of one of the biggest honors of being the Hotelie for Life® prize winner; the ability to deliver the commencement address at the Hotel School graduation ceremony.  Chloe will have the opportunity to speak in front of her classmates during the re-scheduled 2020 class graduation ceremonies in early June 2021.  Chloe is not sure what the theme of her commencement address will be, but she believes it will be COVID related, and the lessons she has learned about adaptability.

CHS bets that there will also be a message of “life is service” embedded in the speech as well.

* * *

The Cornell Hotel Society and Cornell Hotel Foundation congratulate Chloe, and wish her the best of success on her journey as a Hotelie for Life®.  This interview was conducted by Robert Mandelbaum ’81.

Madison Austrich ‘19 – Hotelie for Life® Prize Winner

During her speech at the May 2019 School of Hotel Administration (SHA) graduation ceremony, Madison Austrich ’19 asked her fellow graduates to be mindful of the moment. By remembering graduation day, her fellow Hotelies will have this occasion of pride and accomplishment to draw upon to gain confidence during future challenging professional or personal events. Providing advice and preaching mindfulness are two of Madison’s many passions she practiced during her four years at Cornell. In fact, it was receiving advice from Kayti Stanley ’18 (the 2018 Hotelie for Life® Prize winner) during her freshman orientation that ignited Madison’s confidence to become a leader while on campus.

Madison had the honor of addressing her classmates at graduation as the 2019 winner of the Hotelie for Life® Prize (formerly known as the Joseph Drown Special Prize). The prize is awarded to a Hotel School senior who has demonstrated academic excellence, extracurricular leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, social responsibility and well-conceived career goals and aspirations. The award is sponsored by the Cornell Hotel Society (CHS) and the CHS Foundation.  (Note: Click on picture to listen to Madison’s speech)

Madison’s first contact with the Hotelie network came during high school in Florida. The parents of a member of her crew boat were both Hotelies. From them she learned that she could have an education and career in hospitality. After visiting campus for the first time and interviewing with Brad Walp, Madison returned home and immediately submitted her application for early decision to the Hotel School. A few months later, Madison was excited to turn down rowing scholarship offers from other universities, including The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, when she received her acceptance letter from Cornell.

When arriving in Ithaca, Madison assumed her life would be led by crew. While her teammates on the crew team helped her tremendously during her freshman year, Hotel School related activities shortly began to dominate her time on campus. Appreciating the benefit she received during the orientation process, Madison joined The Hotel School Ambassadors. Her interest in the new student experience eventually led her to become President of the organization her senior year. During her time as a leader she dramatically changed the process for selecting ambassadors, focusing more on the sincerity of the applicants, as opposed to their resume.

Besides excellence in the classroom, Madison was involved in several extracurricular activities beyond The Hotel School Ambassadors. All told, Madison was an active participant and leader in 13 different student organizations and successfully competed in four case study competitions. Three other organizations helped shape Madison more than others, and vice versa: Hotel Ezra Cornell, The 180, and serving as a teaching assistant.

  • Madison served as an HEC leader her first three years as a Hotelie. She started as a service manager her freshman year, and then took on assistant director positions in service, operations, and finance. From this experience she honed her skills as a leader.
  • Exemplary of her diverse academic talents and interests, Madison served as a Teaching Assistant in four different classes for three different professors. Her primary focus was in the areas of modeling, accounting and finance. Upon entering school, Madison had little exposure to these areas, but completely fell in love with finance during her time at Cornell. Now, after graduation, Madison has accepted a position with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts as a Finance Manager-in-Training on Maui.
  • Madison was a Founding Member of The 180, a “yearbook-like” publication that features the stories of Hotelie heroes not typically heard. Serving as the Managing Director her senior year, the experience allowed Madison the opportunity to observe and record the creative side of Hotelies. In addition, as a Founding Member of the organization, she participated in the process of establishing the club’s by-laws, organizational structure, and culture.

When asked what it means to be a Hotelie for Life®, Madison reverted to the motto that binds all Hotelies – “Life is Service”. For Madison, service goes beyond the traditional examples cited within the hospitality industry. Madison appreciates the day-to-day interactions with people who provide joy to others with a smile or a thoughtful response to the question, “How are you doing?”

Grounding Madison’s diverse and successful time at Cornell was her belief in mindfulness. When she began to prepare her graduation remarks, mindfulness was just a small part of the speech. Then, while reviewing her text with Professor Amy Newman, it soon became evident that mindfulness needed to become more prominent to deliver a passionate and sincere message. For Madison, mindfulness trains your brain to “enjoy life while it is happening. Once you’ve experienced something mindfully, you can always go back to that.”

Madison must have a highly trained brain. She had a lot of enjoyable and successful experiences at Cornell to be mindful of.

* * *

The Cornell Hotel Society and Cornell Hotel Foundation congratulate Madison and wish her the best of success on her journey as a Hotelie for Life®. This interview conducted by Robert Mandelbaum ’81.


Treadwell International Experience Prize

The CHS Foundation Treadwell International Experience Prize is yet another way Jay (‘61) and Peggy Treadwell are displaying their generosity and commitment to Hotel School students. Recipients of this award receive up to $25,000 for a three-month to one-year international language and cultural immersion. Caroline Shone ‘18 was one of two award recipients from the 2018 SHA graduating class. Caroline spent three months in Colombia and shared her experience and gratitude with the CHS Foundation.

2019 Hotelie for Life® Award Luncheon

On May 9th, the Hotelie for Life® Senior Prize finalists and winner were honored at a luncheon at the Statler Hotel. Madison Austrich ’19 was the recipient of this year’s award and had the added honor of addressing the class of 2019 at graduation this past weekend. In addition to monetary awards, each student also received a lifetime membership to CHS.

The finalists for the 2019 Hotelie for Life® Senior Prize award were Togo Tamura ’19, Daniella Spector ’19, Adam Saks ’19, Shaina Arsenault ’19, and Madison Austrich ’19.

2019 Hotelie for Life Award Finalists



CHS Foundation / Treadwell International Experience Prize

Jay Treadwell ’61 has been a long-time champion of international study for student at The Hotel School.  In 2018, Jay partnered with the Cornell Hotel Society Foundation to establish the CHS Foundation/Treadwell International Experience Prize.  The $25,000 in prize funds is awarded to students who express an interest in studying abroad.  The prize helps fund travel, housing and language classes for the students while studying, or volunteering, outside the United States.

Please view the following video to watch Phil Miller ’83 award the first prizes in the spring of 2018.


Kayti Stanley ‘18 – Hotelie for Life® Prize Winner

Kayti Stanley ’18

The Hotelie for Life® Prize (formerly known as the Joseph Drown Special Prize) is awarded to a Hotel School senior that has demonstrated academic excellence, extracurricular leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, social responsibility and well-conceived career goals and aspirations. The award is sponsored by the Cornell Hotel Society (CHS) and the CHS Foundation.

At the Saturday night banquet of Hotel Ezra Cornell 93, Ms. Kayti Stanley ’18 was announced as winner of the 2018 Hotelie for Life® prize. Kayti is a Hotelie that meets, and exceeds, all the stated requirements of the award.

Kayti was born and raised in Friendswood, Texas, a suburb of Houston. Like most Texans, Kayti participated in many football tailgates which kindled her love for people, food, and hospitality. Despite coming from a split Aggie/Longhorn family, Kayti emphatically states that she bleeds orange all the way.

When looking at colleges, Kayti said that she, “wanted to get out of Texas and have an adventure.” Friends of her grandparents attended Cornell, and knowing Kayti’s appreciation for hospitality touted the great virtues of the Hotel School. She recalls her first visit to campus. It was a snowy day, so her parents stayed back in the hotel. Kayti persevered through the snow, and even got a chance to see the Dragon Day parade.

Kayti was also fortunate to have Lee Pillsbury ‘69 walk in on her prospective student orientation session. After hearing Lee’s passionate description of the contributions and successes of Hotelies while on campus, and after graduation, she was sold on becoming a Hotelie for Life®.

In addition to achieving great success in the classroom, Kayti has been involved in numerous extracurricular activities. She has served as a teaching assistant in multiple classes, tutored students, and served as a Dean’s Student Assistant her senior year. One of her most enjoyable experiences was her involvement with the Mortar Board Der Hexenkrieis Senior Honor Society which provided her the opportunity to meet student leaders outside of the Hotel School.

Because of her love for Cornell, Kayti wanted to become involved in the new and prospective student experience. “You only have four years on campus, time here is so precious and there is never a lack of opportunities. Make the most of it. Cornell is a place to succeed and fail comfortably. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” she advises. Accordingly, Kayti has served as a Hotel School ambassador, a leader on the University’s Orientation Steering Committee, and as a Campus Tour Guide where she learned to walk backwards and talk at the same time. (Editor’s note: You want her on your Cornell trivia team.)

Kayti’s thoughts regarding her career path have changed from year-to-year, influenced by all the new professors and classes she got exposed to. Over her four years her career interests have gone from banquets and events, to hospitality design, to technology. “Try everything and see what you are passionate about” is one of her mantras.

After graduation, Kayti is going to take a few months off and then begin her career in Dallas with Deloitte. She has attained the position of Business Analyst in the Strategy and Operations Consulting Group. “I’m not exactly sure what businesses I will be working with, but I hope to focus on bringing people and service practices into industries where that culture does not currently exist,” Kayti says.

As winner of the Hotelie for Life® Prize, Kayti has the honor of addressing the faculty, parents, family, friends, and her fellow classmates at the Hotel School commencement ceremonies. When asked what her parting words will be, Kayti responded, “I don’t care for endings, but I do really like beginnings. I plan to speak about the importance of gratitude, and how what starts at the Hotel School is just the start for each of us.” Similar to the advice she has given to numerous new and prospective students, she wants to tell the 2018 class of Hotelies that, “the future is going to be full of challenges and successes.”

How is Kayti going to remain a Hotelie for Life®? “I was wowed by the alumni events I got to attend in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. I am so excited to become active in CHS.” Kayti also hopes to return to campus as a guest speaker, and continue to advise students as she has done for the past four years.

“Gratitude is an important value to have. I am extremely grateful for my time at Cornell, and what is to come,” Kayti concludes.

Kayti’s speech during the May 2018 SHA graduation ceremonies can be found here:

KaytiStanley_Grad Speech_Final

* * *

The Cornell Hotel Society and Cornell Hotel Foundation congratulate Kayti, and wish her the best of success on her journey as a Hotelie for Life®. This interview conducted by Robert Mandelbaum ’81.


On May 4 a luncheon was held to honor all nominees for the 2018 Hotelie for Life® Prize.  In attendance were (left to right) Associate Dean Cathy Enz, Dean Kate Walsh, Tim Dick , Cheryl Boyer, Christie Choy’18, Elena Mandry’18, Kayti Stanley’18, Alex Levy’18 and Rick Adie.

CHS Senior Prize Winner – Giovanna Cavagnaro ‘17

2017 CHS Senior Student Award Winner – Giovanna Cavagnaro ’17

The CHS Senior Prize (formerly known as the Joseph Drown Special Prize) is awarded to a Hotel School senior that has demonstrated academic excellence, extracurricular leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, social responsibility and well-conceived career goals and aspirations. The award is sponsored by the Cornell Hotel Society (CHS) and the CHS Foundation.

In May of 2017, the inaugural winner of the CHS Senior Prize was Ms. Giovanna Cavagnaro ’17, a Hotelie that meets, and exceeds, all the stated requirements of the award.

Giovanna was born in Brazil and spent the first 16 years of her life there. For her last two years of high school, she moved on her own to Alpharetta, Georgia to live with a relative and finish her schooling in the United States.  When looking for a college, Giovanna said, “Might as well go to a good school since I moved all the way to the United States.”

After searching the internet, she found Cornell University. Then, while on the Cornell website, the Hotel School caught Giovanna’s eye.  She knew the combination of travel and service fit her personality.  During her admission interview Giovanna was asked to define leadership.  Her answer was, “Influential Service,” not knowing that the school’s motto was “Life is Service.”

Before she arrived on campus Giovanna wanted to get some hospitality experience. Therefore, she reached out to Ed Levine – Hotel ’84 who conducted her admission interview.  A few days later, Ed hooked her up with an internship at a local Holiday Inn.  “This was my first experience of the Hotelie network and solidified my choice of the Hotel School.”

Once on campus, Giovanna became extremely active both inside, and outside of Statler. “My favorite course was Business Computing.  Understanding technology is so essential, and I believe it will be my most useful class throughout life.”  In an effort to gain a better understanding of computing, Giovanna took it upon herself to become a teaching assistant for the course.  “I knew I would master it if I could teach it.”

While computing may be very practical, Giovanna found her true passion in another discipline. “After taking my first real estate and finance course, it suddenly clicked in my brain that this is what I want to do for my career.”  Giovanna then parlayed several other real estate and finance courses, as well as teaching assistant positions, into a job at LaSalle Hotel Properties after graduation.  “All the knowledge I gained in my real estate law course has already helped me negotiate the deal for my condo in Washington, DC!”

Giovanna did not spend all four years on campus. In the fall of her Junior year she took a semester abroad in Australia.  Away from Statler, Giovanna took advantage of the opportunity and enrolled in courses that are not offered in the Hotel School.  “During our forensic accounting course we had a case study that featured some Cornell professors.  When the teacher found out I was a Cornell student, I was a rock star.”  Upon returning to Ithaca she worked in the Human Resources department of the Statler Hotel.

When not in class, Giovanna acted on her spiritual and social-action passions. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Giovanna was both a leader, and singer, at Christian organizations on and off campus.  One of Giovanna’s proudest achievements was her honors thesis on sex trafficking and the hotel industry’s role and responsibility.  Based on her research, training on how to handle the issue became available for all Cornell students on Blackboard.  Giovanna’s work was reported on by The Cornell Chronicle:

Now that she is leaving Cornell, Giovanna says it is the people (friends and faculty) that she will miss the most. “During my last few days on campus I also realized how much I will simply miss walking around campus.  Each building has a special significance to me, especially Statler.”

While she is departing, Giovanna has a lot of advice for new students. “Don’t be scared to ‘pour yourself out.’  Give Cornell all your energy, because you will get back even more.”  For freshman Hotelies, “Live out ‘Life is Service’ to the fullest.  SHA is a school of opportunities.  Know your limits, but don’t leave any opportunity behind.”

Looking forward, Giovanna wants to discover all the intricacies of her “adult, professional life.” She is happy there are a lot of Hotelies in the DC area, but looks forward to meeting new people as well.

When asked to describe what it means to be a Hotelie for Life, she responded, “You do whatever you can to help anther Hotelie.” This is yet another interpretation of Giovanna’s passion for the phrase, “Life is Service.”

Interview conducted by Robert Mandelbaum ’81.