UH Hilton College Assistant Professor Jay Neal is ready to talk about food safety. His class today is a group of Houston veterans eager to learn about the hospitality industry.
“I served during the Gulf War. Desert Storm,” said Kristou Morris, a disabled veteran participating in a program called “Learning Skills for Life,” which trains unemployed and underemployed local veterans in life and business skills needed to secure employment in the hospitality industry. “I’ve been through the homeless route, been to several different programs. The challenge is that it just takes time to readjust.”
“Learning Skills for Life” is a collaboration between the college and Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol.
Faculty and staff from the college are instructing participants in the areas of restaurant and beverage service. Following the four-week program participants will have certificates in beverage and food handling, and will receive career counseling and networking opportunities.
“The veteran community comes in with a lot of experience in being part of a team,” said Anna Johnson, the college’s manager of community engagement. “They’ll be learning the basic roles in a restaurant, culinary terminology, wine and cocktail service. They’ll get their ServSafe certification and their TABC certification as well.”
Industry experts also will instruct veterans in professional development, résumé writing and interview skills. And participants will receive business attire thanks to Dignity U wear and Brooks Brothers.
“The hopes are that I will be gainfully employed in something I truly look forward to and enjoy daily,” Morris said. “Something I can get really excited about.”
“Learning Skills for Life” is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.