It’s fair to say that Saint Leo boasts a huge variety of talent amongst their students. One 21-year-old, Mindy Vitale, is one of those students, taking the world of tourism and hospitality by storm. The junior hails from Punta Gorda, Fla. and is interested in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.
Vitale is also the 2016-2017 Southern Regional Chair of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality [NSMH], which held their national conference at the end of February. In her role, Vitale oversees 12 chapters, including Tennessee and Texas, organizing and hosting conference calls on a weekly basis.
NSMH is a premier professional organization for hospitality students throughout the U.S. It was founded at Cornell University in 1989 by four leaders and has since grown to over one thousand students from across the country that continue to set the way for future leaders of the industry.
NSMH addresses diversity and multiculturalism, as well as the career development of its student members. They believe that these lessons are important to the future leaders of this industry and that anyone of any ethnicity, gender, or other demographic group can value. Their motto is “Today’s students, tomorrow’s leaders.” As soon as Vitale began Saint Leo as a freshman, NSMH caught her eye in the list of clubs and organizations.
“I remember seeing NSMH on the list of clubs, and as a tourism and hospitality major I was naturally attracted to join,” Vitale said. “Even though I wasn’t a minority, I wanted to promote diversity in the industry.”
She went on to say that “The president at the time, Michelle, had a huge impact on me and through Saint Leo, I was given the opportunity to be the event coordinator for NSMH, and plan hospitality week and an Industry plan with five hospitality professionals.”
Since Freshman year, Vitale has moved from strength to strength, eventually being nominated for a national board position with the organization.
“I received a call from my advisor at Saint Leo. She encouraged me to represent Saint Leo by applying for the position of Southern Regional Chair, and I thought it would be an incredible opportunity and a chance for me to gain valuable experience. I made a speech last year at the conference in Washington D.C. and I was elected. Since then I’ve never looked back!”
Her term started Jul. 1, 2016 and will end on Jun. 30 of this year. Vitale will be the first Saint Leo representative to be on the national NSMH board.
Vitale traveled to the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront to help host the national conference at the end of Feb. She was a member of the team who organized the event, beginning preparations since June of last year. The theme of the conference was “Planting seeds for Growth.”
The conference offered a range of workshops held by professionals in the field from top organizations, such as Hyatt Regency, Hilton, Four Seasons, and MGM Grand. A career fair was also held to give attendees a chance to network with recruiters and seek out potential internships or jobs. The conference had several social events in the evening, including a Gala event with the theme “The Great Gatsby.”
Vitale delivered a speech to over 700 attendees and 50 top hospitality recruiters, which was a highlight for her. Reflecting on her experience, Vitale said:
“I have gained excellent experience with NSMH, being able to connect and network with professionals in the hospitality industry and retain those relationships, and I would like to encourage Saint Leo students to continue to represent the university within a professional organization.”
“It’s a great learning process, I have met so many people and found a great support system, so I would highly encourage those interested to go out for the opportunity,” she said. “NSMH has not only enhanced my career opportunities, but it’s also helped me to gain confidence, leadership skills, public speaking skills which have helped my overall personal development. NSMH has been an amazing opportunity for me, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Her talent doesn’t end there. Vitale is also the President of the International Tourism Club on the campus and was a key figure in planning the successful “Beer and Bratz” tasting seminar last semester.
If students are interested in finding out more about NSMH or would like to get involved, they can view the website at http://www.nsmh.org, or search for ‘NSMH Headquarters’ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. NSMH meets on Tuesdays at 5 pm in SOB 334, and ITC meets Tuesdays at 5 pm in SOB 334.