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.

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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.


Caroline Shone ’18 – 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

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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.