"We are the future leaders in the hospitality industry," said student Stephanie Truett. "What better way to get the name of the Hilton college out there than to show what our students are able to do with this event, which is the largest event of its kind."
Student leaders recruit and organize local and national wineries, handle logistics and manage more than 200 volunteers.
"We believe strongly in the idea of experiential learning," said Krystal Peay. She directs the event and oversees the innovative partnership. Peay also is an alum of the college. "Students are just as involved in the planning of the event as an employee would be. They have ultimate responsibility for their aspect of the event."
The experience is part of three-credit hour class at UH in which students are interviewed and chosen for their positions in the event.
Truett, a self-proclaimed foodie, is the guest hospitality manager. She ensures that travel arrangements for vendors and chefs are in order.
"From the networking standpoint, I like the fact that I'm working alongside some of the food vendors I'm actually interviewing with and have applied to work with," she said. "I'm such a foodie—being able to network with many of the nationally-acclaimed chefs that will be there is a great opportunity as well."
Funds raised at the event support scholarships for students at the Hilton College. The experience ensures that the next generation of hospitality industry professionals are equipped to be in management positions.
"I just want people to go to the event, have a grand time and say 'wow, look what these future leaders can do," Truett said.