Monday, July 19, 2010

A Summer We'll Never Forget

Ivy League Connection
Cornell Summer College 2010
Hotel Operations and Management: Tactics for Profitability
Beilul Naizghi’s Reflection

The Experience “This is Summer College, not summer camp!”

Reflecting on these past three weeks, it honestly feels like a dream. If it weren’t for the blogs and my Cornell memorabilia, I would swear it never happened. During our time at Cornell, I met new people, learned about the world’s most dynamic industry, completed a college course at an Ivy League university, went canoeing, did my own laundry, lived in a dorm, bonded with my fellow ILC peers, and much more. This trip has cemented my notion that I do want to come to the East Coast for college; be it an Ivy League Institution or a liberal arts college.

So, what did I learn during my three weeks at Cornell? It is hard to explain. I learned more than I ever imagined I would about hotel profitability, but outside of class, the most important things I learned was to be independent and responsible. I woke myself up for class, I made sure I got something to eat, I was responsible for doing my assignments, I did my own laundry and I loved it. It was incredibly empowering and inspired confidence in me. I left Ithaca knowing that after what I had accomplished, there is little else in the world that I cannot do.

The ILC Application “Before the Real Thing”

I was incredibly lucky to have been accepted into the Ivy League Connection this year as a sophomore. Upon being accepted eight months ago, there were many milestones that we passed to get to where we are today. It began with writing the application essay, going through the interview, the filling out the Cornell application, meeting with last year’s Hotelies, becoming familiar with Microsoft Office, our presentations to the School Board and our City Councils, the alumni dinner, and the ILC orientation. Sadly our trip ended on Saturday as we arrived at the San Francisco airport, home at last.Looking back on this experience, it was incredibly daunting at first, but in the end it was absolutely worth it. When I first learned about the ILC during my freshman year, I was intimidated by the application process. But, as one former ILC ambassador told me: it is better to go through it now so that you don’t make a mistake on the real application.

The ILC Family “Good Strings”

Though we have only been back for 2 days, I already miss my ILC Cornellian counterparts. Andrew Gonzolas, Jacky Lares, Dyana So, Alex Elms, Andrew Woo and Chris Habash are all amazing people and I am dearly going to miss all the fun we had together. Among those times are our adventure in O’Hare, the various long car rides, cruising and canoeing on Cayuga Lake, and our blogging parties. If it weren’t for the blogging parties, I don’t think I would have seen the Freedom and Justice students at all because of the difference in our schedules. And, of course, I honestly do not think we could have gotten a better chaperone for our trip than Mrs. Kaplan. She was always on call whenever we needed anything and always planning fun stuff for us to do on the weekends, so that we can get away just for a little bit.

The Schedule “Time Management”

At our graduation ceremony, Abby Eller, the Summer College coordinator said she often spoke with students in the various Summer College programs and asked them how they liked Summer College, their course, and their roommate. When their roommate was in hotel, the response she would get was “they’re in hotel- I never see them.” Thus goes to like of a hotelie. With enough class hours to make up an entire semesters worth of class time, hotelies were never without something to do. So, to illustrate my point, what follows is a typical day at Cornell as a hotelie:

7:20-7:50 breakfast at Appel Commons

7:50-8:10 walk to Statler Hall

8:30-11:30 Class

11:30-1:00 Lunch at Trilliams

1:00-4:00 Class

4:00-4:20 walk back to the dorms

4:20-6:00 break time

6:00-6:40 Dinner at Appel

6:40-7:00 walk to office hours

7:00-9:00 office hours

9:00-9:20 walk back to dorms

9:20-11:00 time for blogging, homework, etc.

10:55-11:10 bed check

11:10- anything you want to do in your dorm

Of course, everyday is slightly different, but you get the gist of it. On days with lots of work, many students found it more effective to stay from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the computer lab, thus skipping going back to the dorms all together. Due to the vastness of Cornell’s campus, Cornell Summer College students spent a considerable amount of their day walking to and from class. The average hotel student spent 80 minutes each day commuting.

The Course “Learning more than I ever thought I would”

The Cornell Hotel Operations and Management course is intense. Mark and Reneta are amazing and their lectures were always entertaining. They divided class time into lecture with Reneta and computer lab with Mark. To keep the material interesting and diversified, they even brought in guest lecturers who were other distinguished faculty and alumni of the Cornell Hotel School. The guest lectures ranged from hotel designs, human resources, business writing, to hotel management structure. The course content tends to be very straightforward (like all good business writing) but it is the quantity it is assigned is what made it seem unmanageable. Mark and Reneta are both very detail oriented and want the final products to be as perfect as possible. This means students must proof read their work, proof it again, and proof it once more. Throughout the course, one invaluable asset to utilize were the TA’s. All of them are students at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and many of them also work at the Statler Hotel. They are present at all office hours and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Besides the TA’s, Mark and Reneta are more than willing to answer any questions students may have had or just to chat.

Our GroupsThere’s no I in team!”

A big aspect of the course is working in groups. On the first day of class, we took a behavioral analysis test which decided who our group members would be for the remainder of the program. My group consisted of Adrienne, Arian, Max, and myself and I really couldn’t have asked for a better group. We got along very well, and while other groups had difficulties working together, my group worked efficiently and collaboratively from start to finish.

Group 6A:

The Assignments “So much to do, so little time”

Our first assignment was to write a memo to Mark and Reneta with the prompt they provided for us. It would behoove future hotelies to learn the basic memo format. During the first week of class, they had taught us the proper memo format, had us create our own memo template and brought in a guest lecturer to teach us about business writing. Combining all of these elements, by the end of the first week, we had to turn in a memo we created about our proposed CHESS expenses. This is the style of learning used throughout the course. Everything builds upon what we had learned in the past.

The Students “You’re from Where??”

Everyone in the hotel class is intelligent, motivated, and hardworking. Many come from families with extensive previous hospitality experience, and many more have family members, be it siblings or parents who attended Cornell. Our class was filled with students who came from France, Bombay, Indonesia, and Greece as well as California, Tennessee, Utah, New Jersey, and many other countries and states. Furthermore most students have intentions of attending the Cornell Hotel School or entering the hospitality industry in the future. Because of this, the class environment is very different from that of regular high school classes. When you gather together some of the brightest, most driven high school students in the world taking a course that they are all interested in, you come up with quite an extraordinary class.

Dorm Life “Shower Stalls, Roommates, and Check-In”

This year, all seven of the ILC students lived in the Mary Donlon dorms, with the girls on the 4th floor and the boys on the 6th. The dorm was in a close proximity to the Appel Commons, which is where we ate breakfast and dinner as well as the RCCP, a student lounge with a general store that was located right across the street. Most dorms had two people per room and were only equipped with the most basic necessities. There are two bathrooms on each floor, with about 4 bathroom stalls, 4 showers each and 8 sinks each. I was very lucky in the room assignment process as I my roommate, Alisia, and I got along very well. A drawback to dorm life was check-in, simply because they only had one RCA every night who had to check in everyone on the floor, which took a while.

The College Visits “What are you looking for?”

In spite of our say long flight delay, we still were lucky enough to visit two of the colleges we were scheduled to visit: Colgate University and the University of Rochester. These trips really put the college selection process in perspective. I learned how much of a factor location is for me, personally on our two hour drive to Colgate as we passed miles and miles of cornfields and cows. I realized I have a lot more research to do when I found out the University of Rochester has a similar open curriculum to Brown. During the tours, I learned a lot about what makes each school unique as well as what I am looking for when I eventually pick the schools I would consider to attend.

Thank You “..And I Owe It All to You”

As I conclude, I would like to extend my thanks to the WCCUSD School Board and the ILC sponsors for your support of the ILC. It is through your political and financial support that this program exists and continues to make an impact on the lives of very lucky students in WCCUSD. I would also like to thank the Hercules Middle High School staff for their support of all Hercules students as well as the many talented teachers that have prepared all of us to compete with students that come from schools with much more resources than WCCUSD has to offer. Of course, no proper thank you could be complete without a HUGE thank you to Don Gosney, Mr. Ramsey, and Mrs. Kronenberg. They are the heart and soul of the ILC and I really appreciate everything they have done to prepare us for the rigor of the Cornell program. It took a lot of time and effort on their part but it was greatly appreciated. And finally, I would like to thank my parents. They have supported me for 16 years and always believed in me, pushing me to do things I didn’t think I could. I would not be where I am today without their undying love and support for all their children.

Love,

Beilul Naizghi

P.S. I would also like to thank all of our blog visitors. It fills me with joy to know that we were not writing for deaf ears, and hopefully you enjoyed reading about our adventures as much as we like writing about them.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Beilul! I hope that you have a great summer before school begins again. It was a pleasure to have you and enjoy the different parts of the trip with us. Hope to see you at the potluck!

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  2. Beilul-
    You really are going to be that principal -- or anything else you want to be!
    Ms. K

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  3. What a wonderful reflection. I felt as if I was in two places at the same time - NYC and Ithaca. I loved reading the blogs from Cornell.

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