Already a certified pastry chef, Sophia Gan enrolled at Glendale Community College to continue her education in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program. After meeting Michael Lao, the program director, and taking some of his classes, Gan learned how to network- the key to finding a job in today’s economy.
Not only did she learn the importance of making business cards to promote her skill sets, but she made friends with many students in the HTM classes. The HTM classes are unique in that many of the students already have jobs in the industry, but are seeking education in order to move up the career ladder. Through one of these connections from a former student already working as a team leader at the highest volume bakery in the United States, Sophia Gan gained a job where she could put her culinary training to use as a cake decorator for Porto’s Bakery & Café in their new Downey location.
Cakes being her primary inspiration for having switched from being a Biology major to a Culinary Arts major, this new position is quite a fit for her as she helps put together over 30 cakes a day. Gan feels that the best thing about her time at GCC was meeting Michael Lao. Of his passion for developing his students she says, “he’s always supportive and he makes a personal connection to understand his students.” It is this personal connection that assisted in her employment at Porto’s, as well as a rise in her self-confidence.
As for her future, this talented young girl from China with a passion for cakes is looking forward to someday working as a Pastry Chef in a hotel and entering competitions with her artistic edible talent. Sophia Gan is grateful for her opportunities in the HTM program. “I am grateful to have Mr. Lao as one of my professors and mentors in my career. I appreciate all the hard work he puts in to ensure that his students are on the right path to success and enjoyment of life.
Written by Jennifer LaFontaine and Josh Isaak
As an accomplished businesswoman and family member- Taline Karalekian is a modern day, busy woman. With her family’s support- Taline went back to school in February of 2009 to obtain new skills for her family’s retail business. Besides being a current student at Glendale Community College- Taline is the Sales Manager of her family’s business, Aladdin Nuthouse in Pasadena, CA (www.aladdinnuts.com). Aladdin Nuthouse specializes in dried fruits, daily fresh roasted nuts, candies and spices. A major part of Taline’s job is to product market these specialty items to customers. Taline went back to school to acquire these new business objectives in marketing, sales and customer service. “To be more organized and advertise in a proper way- where we can attract more customers.” She is currently working towards her Associates of Arts Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management.
This is where Taline met Mr. Lao, Department Chair and Professor of the HTM Program. “Mr. Lao has helped me learn a lot from the program. I have taken all the advices he’s given throughout my attendance in the program and used it to better run my family retail business.”
Taline loves to interact with people and to learn new things every day. She is building her hospitality skills towards working in a fine dining establishment and to continue her education and degree goals at Cal Poly Pomona.
To further her Hospitality education- Taline is currently interning at Sarkis Pastry in Glendale, CA. She helps bakers to decorate cakes, making all kinds of sweets, cookies and their famous Baklava. Taline believes in, “Loving what you do and encouraging everyone to keep volunteering and studying.”
By: Jenny Dao
“I was slightly unsure about the hospitality industry,” commented Maritza Chow about her first step in the Hospitality & Tourism Management program, “for me Hospitality was basically hotels.”
Chow, a Chinese international student who was born and raised in Honduras, came to Glendale Community College in 2005 and started with the Introduction to the Hospitality Industry course, which opened her eyes to the diverse world of Hospitality.
Pretty soon an opening appeared and Mr. Lao was seeking a new program assistant, an offer he extended to Maritza Chow. “My yes wasn’t right away, it took me a little while because I was also working at the library and Mr. Lao had expressed that he wanted me as a full-time assistant. “ When Chow finally agreed, she knew she was in for a unique opportunity that would provide her with hands-on training, industry insight, and a crash course in professionalism. “I took it as a privilege that he came to me and asked me that; opportunities only knock once.”
Not only did she receive industry-specific information through the Hospitality Program, but serving as a program assistant and club vice president provided her with leadership training that not many other positions available to students can provide.
“You need a script to guide you through what you’re going to do as a manager, and being exposed to tours and guest lectures introduced me to the mechanics of the hospitality industry,” she says. Unlike other segments of the career world, the Hospitality Industry is always changing and reinventing itself. Sometimes instead of an essay or a quiz, what students need is a personal story to motivate them and let them know that regardless of what they study for in high school or college, their interests and opportunities could change at any moment for the better.
Now, after being provided with a strong work ethic and confidence, Maritza Chow is the new assistant manager for Mendocino Farms in Marina Del Rey, a growing upscale sandwich shop that takes elegant entrees and crafts a modern, unique sandwich from it. Most recently, Chow revisited Glendale Community College and the Hospitality and Tourism Management program to guest lecture for Mr. Lao’s Cost Control class.
Written By: Josh Isaak
After 25 years in various management positions, including 15 years in the publishing industry, Paul Davis returned to college with the motivation to keep his mind sharp. Between the increasingly popular use of the Internet for classified advertising and the poor economic climate in late 2008, all the regional offices of his former employer, Auto Trader Magazines, were closed. Refocusing his commitment to continuing education, Paul enrolled at GCC in the winter of January 2009. He enrolled in several business-related courses as well as taking Spanish classes. Paul praises motivation as the key to success!
In the summer of 2009, Paul enrolled in Introduction to the Hospitality Industry (HTM 115- CSU 3 units) and met Michael Lao (Department Chair and Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management). Paul says, “Mr. Lao introduced me to the many aspects of the hospitality and food service industry. The hotel and restaurant tours were a great experience!” Consequently, Paul enrolled in Event Planning and Meeting Management (HTM 205). Subsequently, Paul joined the Hospitality Club.
Through contacts made through Mr. Lao, Paul was offered an opportunity to teach adult non-credit computer courses at the Garfield Campus for the Continuing Education Department. “I’m the luckiest person in the world. Mr. Lao helped change my life.” Paul now teaches Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Introduction to Computers and much more. This is truly an enjoyable gift for Paul as he naturally comes from an instructor and corporate trainer background. Paul has experience in employee training, coaching, mentoring and project management. As a former instructor of the Los Angeles County, Office of Education, Paul has performed class lectures, demonstrations and has a great deal of hands-on experience using word processing, graphics and desktop publishing software.
Paul continues to thrive with his educational goals at GCC and with his teaching position at the Garfield Campus, as well as at the Professional Development Center in Montrose. As a philomath, Paul is always willing and ready to help others. To learn more about Paul Davis or how he can help you, please contact him at www.paul-davis.com.
By: Jenny Dao
Maricela Arzate is a current GCC student- but she will be transferring to Cal-Poly Pomona in Spring 2011 for her Bachelors of Science Degree in Human Resources with a minor in Hospitality Management. Aside from working hard at school and work- Maricela participated in the Hospitality Club’s Student Outreach Program in 2009.
Maricela started in November of 2010 as the Human Resources Coordinator at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel and Convention Center in Burbank, CA. Prior to being hired- Maricela interned at the Marriott Burbank. As a Human Resources Coordinator- she is a liaison and is cross-trained in many areas to cover the Human Resources Department.
Maricela’s mentor is Professor Michael Lao who opened her up to the fascinating industry of hotel and travel. Professor Lao is the Department Chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Program at Glendale Community College. Her support system is her professors, peers and her Human Resources Manager. Maricela loves her industry and she is empowered by being persistent and consistent. She urges students to network and to do an internship!
By: Jenny Dao
Eric Chung is busy these days volunteering at the La Crescenta Chamber of Commerce, being a student at Glendale Community College, working at the Embassy Suites Brea and is on track to graduate in Spring 2011 with his Associates of Arts in Hospitality Management. His future plans are to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona for his Bachelor of Arts and then to UNLV for his Masters of Arts. Eric is motivated by the constant changes in the industry- that needs endless learning and training.
Eric is a Group Sales Coordinator for the Embassy Suites Hotel Brea, CA. He coordinates incoming groups and transient businesses as well as creating and analyzing reports in order to target markets for solicitation efforts. Eric just started as an intern then was hired on as a permanent employee in June 2010. Eric’s long-term career goal is to become a General Manager in five years and to become a Regional Manager in ten years.
Eric advises his peers to work hard, to plan and execute, practicing a strong mental attitude and to look at situations in different perspectives. His mentors are Russ Tanakya (General Manager of Embassy Suites Hotel Brea,CA) and Michael Lao (Professor and Department Head of Glendale Community College’s HTM Department). Eric also gives credit to his close support system- Lisa Kotlar (Director of Sales, Embassy Suites Brea), his Mom and friends.
By: Jenny Dao
Martha Gamez is the Purchasing Director of Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, CA. She has been working at the Bel Air Country Club for the past seventeen years and has held the Director position for the past eight years. As a Purchasing Director- she procures all non food products. The Bel-Air Country Club is a private club that requires annual membership. Many high-end members come to enjoy the serene landscape and a round of golf.
In 2007, Martha returned to school at Glendale Community College utilizing Bel-Air Country Club’s tuition reimbursement benefits. Martha is currently taking evening classes and says, “Never stop learning. You need to have an overall view.” She believes that school supplies us with the academics but that we still need hands on training in the field.
Aside from returning to school- Martha was the President of the Hospitality Club in 2007. Her mentors are Michael Lao and Joseph Wagner. Michael Lao is the Department Chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Program at Glendale Community College. Joseph Waganer is the General Manager of the Bel-Air Country Club. Her support system is her family and friends.
By: Jenny Dao
Kelly Hsieh is one of the busiest students at Glendale Community College. Aside from her current studies in Hospitality and Tourism Management- Kelly is also Vice President and Mystery Shop Coordinator of the Hospitality Club. On other days, Kelly holds a part-time position as Lead Generator to the Sales and Catering Department of the Pasadena Hilton. Kelly brings a wealth of experience in customer service and is motivated by the opportunity to become more efficient.
Kelly’s long-term goal is to finish her Associates of Arts in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Glendale Community College by 2012. Then, to transfer to Florida International University to continue in her Bachelor of Arts. Kelly hopes to graduate in 2014 and then to become an Event Coordinator at a luxury hotel in Miami, FL. A lot of hard work ahead- she recognizes.
What keeps Kelly motivated at school? The wonderful support from Professor Michael Lao and Professor Russ Tanakaya. The program is like a place for you to explore your inner self. Trying to find what you like and what you don’t like. At work though- Kelly is supported by a wonderful team- performing task from lead generating to project management. The Directors of Sales at the Pasadena Hilton, Tracy Ward and Donna Myers, truly believes that Kelly will be successful in time.
Another important figure in Kelly’s life is her professor and mentor- Michael Lao. Michael Lao is the Department Chair of Glendale Community College’s HTM Department. Kelly and Mr. Lao met in his Introduction to Hospitality class in the summer of 2009. He gave Kelly the opportunity to meet with the General Managers and Owners of hotels, restaurants and etc. She now has great relationships with all of them because of him. “Mr. Lao taught me relationship building, protocols, follow-ups, etc- which are all essential to the industry. Without him, I would’ve never been in the position where I am working for Pasadena Hilton.”
By: Jenny Dao