Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc., which is developing St. Thomas’ former Renaissance Grand Beach Resort property as a Margaritaville Vacation Club resort, presented $10,000 scholarships to two University of the Virgin Islands students and made a direct $5,000 grant to support UVI’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program. The company has separately provided $25,000 in funding to the V.I. Department of Education for several related territorial projects, including the Junior University program, which is operated by UVI.
Several of the 59 students enrolled in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program turned out to meet with Wyndham corporate and human resources representatives about future professional opportunities and attend a check presentation on Nov. 21. Demi Moore and Daynia Dowling, both freshman students majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management, received the scholarships. Dowling is enrolled on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, while Moore studies on the St. Thomas Campus.
UVI President Dr. David Hall expressed his thanks to Wyndham representatives and welcomed them “as one of our partners in providing significant support to the program and our students.” Dr. Hall said the bachelor’s program in Hospitality and Tourism Management is designed to prepare the future leaders of the industry at UVI. “You are looking at your replacements,” he told the Wyndham executives, while indicating the students in attendance. “We deeply appreciate your presence and your generosity.”
Wyndham’s Executive Vice President of Human Resources Sarah King said that in addition to its financial support, the company is planning to offer students in UVI’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program internship opportunities at two other St. Thomas properties they already manage – Bluebeard’s Beach Club and the Elysian Beach Resort. Tamara Lang, interim director of UVI’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program, said such internships are important for her students, who are required to complete two, 300-hour internships during the four-year program.
“The students were very excited that they had the opportunity to talk with people from the industry and find out what is expected of them when they apply for positions,” Lang said.
Regular employment opportunities, as well as additional internship positions, are expected when the Maragritaville project is completed. “We’re probably going to start hiring in the second half of next year,” King said, noting that she expected more than 100 full-time jobs to become available. She also shared the address of the company’s career website – http://wvojobs.com – where local job openings will be posted.
“We are thrilled by Wyndham’s support of our Hospitality and Tourism Management program and our students,” said Dionne Jackson, vice-president for Institutional Advancement at UVI. “These funds will directly impact our students’ lives and help them close the financial gap of the costs of higher education. Corporations within our community may wonder how they can help make a solid investment in the socio-economic development of the Virgin Islands. To them we say, look no further than UVI.”
For more information on ways that foundations and corporations can support the University of the Virgin Islands and its students contact UVI Director of Corporate, Foundation, & Government Relations Richard Cleaver at (340) 693-1042 or send e-mail to [email protected].