WASHINGTON—The American Hotel & Lodging Foundation (AHLA Foundation) awarded $1 million in scholarship funds to 376 students for the 2021/2022 academic year. Fifty of those students are part of a new scholarship program that partners with 10, two-year hospitality programs around the country. The other 326 students are enrolled in bachelor and graduate hospitality degree programs across the United States. Since its founding, the AHLA Foundation has distributed nearly $15 million in scholarship funds to promising hospitality management students across the nation.
The inaugural year of the two-year hospitality scholarship program provides support to deserving hospitality associate degree holders, particularly those who may not otherwise have access to an education. These scholarships will cover a substantial portion of students’ tuition and school costs for a year. For this pilot year, the AHLA Foundation partnered with the following 10 colleges:
- Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
- Collin College
- City College of San Francisco
- Frederick Community College
- Greenville Technical College
- Kirkwood Community College
- Pima Community College
- University of Arkansas—Pulaski Technical College
- University of the District of Columbia
- Valencia College
“The AHLA Foundation is proud to have grown our academic support to include the two-year hospitality scholarship program,” said Rosanna Maietta, president and CEO of the AHLA Foundation. “We hope to inspire the future minds of hospitality through education and the prospect of fruitful careers.”
Each year, the AHLA Foundation administers nine scholarship programs, which award scholarships valued up to $7,500, to students enrolled in hospitality-related bachelor or graduate degree programs at colleges and universities across the country. The Foundation received and evaluated nearly 1,000 applications based on academics, financial need, relevant work experience, extracurricular activities, personal attributes, and a passion to pursue a career in the hotel and lodging industry. This year’s 376 scholarship recipients represented 38 states and Washington, D.C. Fifty-five percent of recipients are students of color, a 10 percent increase over 2020, and 76 percent of the recipients are female.
“The scholarship class of 2021 represents our mission to support and advance a network of students as diverse as the guests we serve in the industry. Now more than ever, we are committed to providing financial opportunities to deserving hospitality students to achieve their educational goals,” said Maietta.
Every student receiving a Foundation scholarship for the 2021/2022 year is on a distinctive journey, and AHLAF is proud to play a small role in their stories. A few of their stories are highlighted below:
- Fritza Camille, age 30 (Washington, D.C.): Fritza decided to join the hospitality industry in March 2017 after earning her AHLEI certificate from The Goodwill Hospitality Training Program. She has goals of becoming the general manager of a full-service hotel and wants to launch a non-profit and scholarship organization to help continue recruiting minority students and professionals who wish to join the hospitality industry. As a young mother, she now looks forward to taking everything she has learned to invest in her education at the University of the District of Columbia.
- Helder Serrazina, age 33 (Monson, Massachusetts): Growing up in Portugal, Helder says that he tried to remain afloat by working night shifts at a hotel and trying to save money for college tuition. He believes education is the only way to grow and ascend if one wants to cause positive change. Now a foster parent in the United States, he hopes to open his first boutique hotel as a means to give back to the community he cherishes. He says that receiving this scholarship will allow him to continue progressing towards higher academic achievement, as he works on his graduate degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
- Sheanejah Crabbe, age 20 (Daytona Beach, Florida): Sheanejah’s goal is to work in a role to support her community with healthy and amazing food. She says that the AHLAF scholarship would allow her to continue down this path, to eventually support her community, without incurring debt she can’t afford. She is on the path to doing this important work at Bethune-Cookman University.
The AHLA Foundation’s scholarships are funded due to support from individual donors and corporations. The AHLAF Annual Scholarship Grant Program, the Foundation’s largest scholarship program, includes funds provided by the AHLAF General Campaign, AHLAF Hospitality 2000 Campaign, Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), AHLAF New Century Fund, the National Restaurant Association, John Clifford Memorial, Cecil B. Day Memorial, Handlery Hotels, Conrad N. Hilton Memorial, Creighton Holden Memorial, Hospitality Asset Managers Association, Steve Hymans Extended Stay Scholarship, Richard Kessler, J. Willard Marriott Memorial, Joseph McInerney Scholarship, Curtis C. Nelson, and AHLAF’s Annual Giving Program.
Additional scholarship programs include The Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students; the Rama Scholarship for the American Dream Program; the American Express Scholarship Program; the Ecolab Scholarship Program; the Karl Mehlmann Scholarship; the Graduate Scholarship Program; the Arthur J. Packard Memorial Scholarship Program; the Stephen P. Holmes Scholarship; the Incoming Freshman Scholarship, which awards PepsiCo Foundation and ALIS Scholarships; and the Opening Doors to Opportunity Scholarship, which awards the Minaz Abji Scholarship.