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Hospitality and Tourism Management Celebrates First Graduate

Dea Mitton.
Rebecca A. Eckland

If travel, vacation, and recreation are your scene, you might want to follow in the footsteps of TMCC’s first graduate from the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, Dea Mitton, who will receive her Associate of Arts this December.  The program, which launched in the Fall of 2018, offers students opportunities in a rapidly expanding career field that can keep them in the community, or propel them into professions around the world. 

The degree program began, in part, because the tourism industry is vitally important to our local economy. According to a report published this year by the Nevada Division of Tourism, tourism is the number one industry in the state and continues to grow. In the calendar year 2018, 56 million people visited Nevada and spent $65.5 billion here, up from $63.7 billion the year before. Through various taxes, Nevada’s tourism industry is an essential revenue source for cities, counties and the state.  

Mitton heard about the program when she was in the business program at UNR. “I saw an email about the program, and it looked kind of cool,” she said. “I love traveling, but I like the business aspect of the major, too.” Mitton took HMD 101, the introductory class in the program, and appreciated a wide range of topics that often included case studies, guest speakers and tours of local hospitality and tourism-oriented businesses. “There was a lot of learning outside of the classroom,” said Mitton whose favorite experiences include a tour of the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum and a survey of the suites in local hotels. “The suites were incredible,” said Mitton. “It was interesting to see how different and massive they are.”

Why You Should Take HDM 101: Introduction to Hospitality

Vanina Coudriet, Program Coordinator for the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, encourages anybody who’s interested at all in the industry to take HMD 101. “The class can serve as an elective for any major. Granted, a lot of business majors take the course, but I also have students take the class for personal interest. The class will introduce you to new opportunities across the industry, and it’s designed to open doors for students who want a future career in the industry.” 

Coudriet explains that the class invites industry experts as guest speakers as a part of its rotating focus on the various aspects of the hospitality and tourism industries. “Each week, we focus on a different topic. So, one week we will focus on hotel operations and the next week we will focus on special events, or sports management—the idea is to expose our students to all these areas. And, because we always have guest speakers, they will be introduced to leaders in these industries. Students can expect to meet CEOs and to hear about their expectations and experiences firsthand, so they can decide if this is really a lifestyle and career they will want to have.”

The program also encourages students to make connections to local organizations in the hospitality and tourism fields through internships. Over the summer, Mitton served as a “Visitor Experience Intern” with the Carson City Culture and Tourism Authority. “I worked with the Marketing Director and helped her with social media,” said Mitton. The internship helped Mitton to realize that she is drawn to the recreational side of the industry.  “I was so excited for her,” said Coudriet. “She was a UNR student, and she came to HDM 101 looking for her passion. She received a scholarship that enabled her to attend a Tourism Conference in Reno after only a few months in the program.”

Even though Mitton is completing her degree program this December (and is a fan of travel) she plans to stay in the area and to continue her academic journey through an online program that offers a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Resource Tourism, which will enable her to focus on tourism for natural resources, such as the National Parks. Her dream job? “I’d love to work for TravelNevada, our State Tourism Agency, especially working on their promotion of Nevada’s rural areas,” she said.  

Yet, for Mitton TMCC’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program was an integral part of her journey toward that goal. “The teachers have been great and all of them were really supportive,” she said. “They are focused on making every student succeed.” 

A Rapidly Growing Industry...and Degree Program

What is unique about TMCC’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management is that it is designed to satisfy the needs of both the industry and our students. “The degree was established in 2018, and we’re already making substantial changes to it,” said Coudriet. “The program is broadening its  course offerings, so it is not just focused on hotel management, but other aspects of the hospitality industry.” Program changes include adding three more classes focused on customer service, guest service recovery, and leadership—all skills that are key aspects of the industry.” 

“This is really an exciting change, and it opens the door for people who are interested in other aspects of the industry, such as working for an airline, a museum or an attraction like a theme park,” said Coudriet. Classes, especially the introductory course, varies its content according to the interests of the students who are attending the class.  When the majority of her students voiced their interest in golf, Coudriet focused the class on the management of golf events and resorts. When she had a class filled with skiers and snowboarders, the class studied what it was like to manage resorts that catered to winter sports enthusiasts. “The course always changes based on what students want to see and learn. They will be able to explore what they like, and even get a job,” said Coudriet.  Additionally, for students who are interested in continuing their education beyond an associate degree, the AA in Hospitality and Tourism Management articulates to UNLV’s Bachelor program. 

Registration for Winter and Spring session classes is open... so if you would like to see if your future could reside in one of these many aspects of hospitality and tourism, register for HMD 101 right away. For more information about the Hospitality and Tourism Management program, contact the Program Coordinator Vanina Coudriet at 775-857-8591.