Previous Thought Leaders

Christine Delgado

Christine Delgado is in her last semester at Syracuse University, and will be receiving her Bachelor of Science Degree in Hospitality Management. Through out her time at SU she has interned as a sales agent for Enterprise rental services and has worked as a student supervisor for the catering department at the SU Carrier Dome.  With both opportunities, she’s enhanced her interpersonal skills, and has developed a bigger passion for the hospitality industry. Not only has she been a great leader in the professional world but, she has also taken people beneath her wings and discover the inner leaders within her academic peers.

Christine has always had a passion for finding out more about ancestors and bettering her education so in the fall of 2011, her landing destination was Hong Kong. Hong Kong is where she studied, lived and gave back to the HK community for the four months. This experience allowed Christine to realize who she was and the culture that she has yet to experience. Her ability to adapt to an entirely different culture and lifestyle is no different than her ability to do so in the workforce.  Leaving HK for Christine was tough but one thing she took with her was the memories and friendships she made that will last a lifetime.

Christine has a passion for art and has developed skills by creating graphic designs for the organizations that she participates in on campus. Most of her work has hit the virtual world and has been promoted throughout social media. She believes that art has always been her talent but she didn't realize how real her talent was until she came to college. Her skills in Photoshop have greatly increased and with this, she sees a potential future in the graphic designing. Upon graduation, Christine hopes to be a professional in the hospitality industry as an event planner and incorporating her talents into her career.

Christine Delgado
Syracuse University 2013
David B. Falk College of Human and Sport Dynamics
Hospitality Management

Nik Finder

Finder Nik is in the final semester of his M.S. in Student Affairs Counseling program in Syracuse University’s School of Education. He is also the Graduate Assistant at the Slutzker Center for International Services. Both his work and his course of study reflect his passion for people and their stories. He is especially interested in working with the international student population and enjoys not only being a resource for them, but learning from them. 
Finder Nik transitioned to graduate school after a decade long career in the tourism industry. His roles were as diverse as a serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Transylvania, to management and product development positions in the luxury active-travel sector. He has been fortunate enough to create a career that included traveling to some of the most beautiful places in the world and developing relationships with both people and place. He is especially proud of the number of Thai street food vendors that will serve him his favorite dish without his needing to order. Which is a good thing, because he usually pronounces it wrong anyways. 
His goal upon graduation is to work as a university recruiter internationally for a technology company in his native Northern California. He reserves the right to adjust his goal to fit ever changing personal and professional interests. To satisfy his insatiable appetite for memorable dining and lodging experiences he is also creating a bespoke culinary travel company. You can find out more at
A natural skeptic, he is convinced that the day will come that some people regret having shared all of their opinions, secrets and photos with everyone else in the world. He has prepared for this time by keeping his online persona relatively incognito. You can reach him instead by emailing

Kara Gonchar

Kara Gonchar has worked as a professional actress, model, singer, and tap dancer since she was eight years old. Yet, she is putting her talents on hold for her education at Syracuse University's iSchool with a focus in social media. Kara worked as a fashion journalist, blogger, vlogger, tweeter, and representative for Seventeen Magazine,,, and In addition, Kara writes for her own blog called “Firecracker in Heels” where her content is viewed daily by hundreds of fashion-obsessed dreamers.

Kara has extensive training in social media marketing through the social media agency Big Fuel. She continues to study under social media “guru” Holly Pavlika. Over the past two years, Kara has gained over 5,000 Twitter followers who follow her daily tweets about fashion, food, New York City, and her professional life. She constantly engages her audience with interesting posts and has a witty journalistic style that is seen in the majority of her content. 

Her devotion to her work and years of experience has not only taught Kara great work ethics and the extreme organizational skills necessary in life, but it has also given Kara the opportunity to find her niche in the fashion, social media, and entertainment industries. At the age of fourteen, Kara began her endeavor into the social media world and has since developed a successful online presence. She is truly passionate for the future of social media and will persistently feed her appetite for social media until her goals are accomplished.

Jihee Han

Jihee is a senior at Syracuse University majoring hospitality management in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.  She’s from South Korea and has been in the United States since 2007.  She is very positive, and passionate about what she’s interested in. Jihee had a hospitality experience at JW Marriott Seoul during the summer of 2012. That experience was a great help to understand hospitality operation system better. Jihee is currently interested in food and beverage management, and after graduation she wants to have variety experience on food and beverage or restaurant industries.

Jihee Han
Syracuse University 2013
David B. Falk College of Human and Sport Dynamics
Hospitality Management

Alexa Sapper

Alexa Sapper is currently a senior attending Syracuse University.  She is studying Hospitality Management in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics with a focus in event planning.  Alexa is incredibly hardworking, organized and personable, which allows her to build many connections in the hospitality industry.

Alexa studied abroad in Florence, Italy her spring semester of junior year.  These travels have helped her expand her knowledge in the hospitality industry as well as the food industry.  This past summer, Alexa worked for a corporate company in the events segment.  After graduation, Alexa is hoping to find a perfect job in the event planning industry!

Alexa Sapper
Syracuse University, 2013
David B. Falk College of Human and Sport Dynamics
Hospitality Management Major

Robin Ching

Robin Ching is currently a senior attending Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  She is studying in food management at the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management and a minor in exercise science. She is highly motivated student. She chose RIT because it has a wonderful access and support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. They gave her opportunity to grow and became ardent with her studies in hospitality.

In the past, Robin worked as a grocery and cheese specialist for Whole Foods and Central Market in Austin, Texas for almost 6 years. She was a hard-working, and dedicated worker. Robin’s experience in the food industry had leaded her to return to school to complete her bachelor degree.

This past summer, Robin had the delightful opportunity to intern with Veteran Affairs’ Nutrition and Food Service Department. She was a clinical dietetic technician for 12 weeks. Then she realized she enjoyed working in the foodservice that prompted her to change her major to food management.

Robin is fanatical about international food & wine. She also enjoys travelling. She has touched throughout the United States, some international countries in South America, Asia, and Europe. Additionally, she is an avid bicyclist and once rode across America, from Los Angeles to Washington DC.

Her goal is to get a certified dietary management after she graduates from RIT. Robin is interested in managing in food service in the hospital or nursing home. Another possibility, she wants to establish a food & wine touring service for deaf travelers in Finger Lakes in upstate New York.

Robin enthusiastically involves with her social media and shares with others.  You may reach her twitter:@ChingRobin.

Robin Ching
Rochester Institute of Technology  ‘13
Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Food Management Major, Exercise Science Minor

Jenna Clark

I am a sophomore the Rochester Institute of Technology majoring in hospitality for hotel management.  I live in Queensbury, NY but I am originally from Albany, NY. I love to be around people.  My bubbly personality and my passion for working with people allows me to love what I'm doing while working hard. I maintain a good balance between my studies and my extracurricular activities.  I am a member of the Hospitality Club, which raises awareness about the hospitality industry and earns money for students who want to go down to NYC for the Hotel show. I am also a member of the racquetball team and an exercise enthusiast! I also enjoy giving back to my community. I have joined a program called Rochester Compeer which matches you up as a mentor for someone with mental health challenges.

This past summer I did a co-op at the Hilton Garden Inn in Saratoga Springs. It opened my eyes to the hotel business and showed me a little of what my future might be like. During the school year I represented Microsoft to promote Windows 8 which gave me great marketing experience. I am also a note taker for RIT's National Institute for the Deaf.

I am minoring in Public Relations and Advertising. I understand how important Public Relations are in our world today and I think it's awesome that we can interact directly with people from our social networks.  I am a huge twitter fan and I understand the value of Facebook.

I am interested in a career that allows me to travel, work with people, and create a new relationship that will last a lifetime. 

Jarlisa Corbett

Jarlisa Corbett is a 3rd year R.I.T student.  She switched her major to advertising and public relations a year ago.  She minors in music and technology and music.  She was born and raised in the small town of Pascagoula, MS. Jarlisa’s major loves in life are music and writing.  She uses social media for many of its functions: for both professional and personal networking, connecting with old/new friends, and to keep up to date with new music.  Her current profession is being a dancer in a touring show.   She has recently been accepted to be a new member of the McNair Scholars program. Also she is a part of RIT Gospel Ensemble, Dangerous Signs, which is a deaf poetry group on campus, and the RIT/NTID dance company.  During the summer she works for Saunders College of Business in their FBLE (Future Business Leaders Experience) program mentoring high school students as they do problem solving for local businesses.  In the end she will be able to combine all of her experiences and passions to obtain a Ph.D in communications to become a professor in said field, and to also start a small music production company. 

Evan Coyne

Evan Coyne is a fourth year Hospitality and Service Management student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Evan holds a concentration in Hotel Management and currently serves as a Front Desk Representative at the Del Monte Lodge Renaissance Hotel & Spa. Evan has completed multiple internships in Food and Beverage, Spa Management and Special Events including an eight month internship at the Ritz-Carlton Beach property in Naples, Florida.

Through school, Evan has been the recipient of the Statler Scholarship of Excellence as well as the J.W Marriott Scholarship for two consecutive years. Outside of her classes, Evan served as the Finance Chair of the Ritz Gala Dinner and the President of RIT's Hospitality Association both her sophomore and junior year. Evan’s strong work ethic has allowed her many career and volunteer opportunities through the Hospitality Association and Residence Life.

Evan's passion for traveling resulted in her study abroad experiences in both Dubrovnik, Croatia and in Dubai. Evan hopes to be able to gain more cultural experience by working abroad eventually. Evan is excited to graduate this March and further her experience in the hotel industry.

Robbin Edwards

Robbin Edwards is a 4th year R.I.T student.  She recently switched her major to Sociology to match her enthusiasm for learning how people interact with each other and their environment. She is also in the process of making Psychology her minor.  She is originally from Jamaica, WI but grew up in Connecticut.  Robbin’s major loves in life are art and helping people. She uses social media and uses it for all its purposes, networking, professional, personal, pictures and displaying her artwork. Her current profession is being a care taker for a wheelchair bound student on campus. She is evolved with COSAALANA and volunteers with them on Friday mornings, teaching science to fourth graders. Also she is a part of Gospel Ensemble which is a choir on campus. During the summer she works and volunteer at Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County, it a non-profit organization that brings opportunities the children from 5 to 18 to learn and work in the field of the arts, which ranges through music, theater, dance, etc. In the end she will be able to combine all the things her loves and maybe become a teacher/ professor or an art therapist. 

You can reach Robbin at:

Daniel Fernandes

I am an innovative Culinarian with an exceptional record of service with more than 18 years of experience in all facets of the food service industry. I am a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and have extensive background in cooking and management for five star, Five Diamond hotels, NY Times 4 starred restaurants, 3 starred Michelin restaurants, and platinum private clubs. Some of these noted establishments are Jean Georges at Trump International Hotel, rated as one of the top 5 best restaurants in the world, Spice Market restaurant, a joint venture between two of the worlds best master chefs Jean George Vongerichten and Grey Kunz, Tastings restaurant at Wegmans Food Markets, Harvard University at Children's Hospital in Boston, Brookdale Senior Living and Aramark at the University of Rochester. I have dedicated a considerable amount of time building up the kind of knowledge and experience necessary to achieve my goal of teaching culinary arts, and as a senior in RIT hospitality program, I am further preparing to offer this background, along with my education and passion for teaching at the college level.

Tully Garrett

Hello Everyone!!

My name is Tully Garrett and I am in 4th year Marketing Major with a minor in Accounting. I am from Brooklyn New York and am currently living on campus in the University Common apartments (UC's). I have one quarter left here at RIT. I am very excited to soon to be finish because I will be a first generation college student and graduate.

Some of my hobbies are using Photoshop, final cut pro and other software of the like. I make fliers and promotional videos for programs and other events. I also love to converse about things, whether large or small because I like to learn about various perspectives on topics.

I decided to take this course to fulfill a requirement but I look forward to learning a lot and also getting to know people. I have no real public relations knowledge. Have a wonderful day everyone!

Kyle Kearns

I am an entrepreneur at heart. My ambitions are often times far more lofty then feasible. However persistence has taken me this far already, which I do not take for granted. I started from a tiny school in the Adirondacks where over 50% of my graduating class (41 students) are not in college and are farming. My high school education didn’t challenge me or excite me in anyway and left me more jaded then prepared. I almost failed out. I went to college because that’s what I was supposed to do.
My collegiate journey started with a major in Political Science, which I fled. I realized at my young age that if changes were to be made politically they would start with things like food, art, or comedy rather than legislature.

So from there I went to a SUNY Adirondack, a local community college, to sort things out. I had told myself that I would never end up at a Community College but while I was there waiting a better option I had accidentally found myself. I played collegiate baseball and learned how to open up and be social without partying like a fool. As it turns out this transformation into being social turned out to being a great lesson in networking. Partying like a fool isn’t all bad though.  

Now that my grades and confidence were on par I was ready to keep moving. I applied for RIT and was accepted. My goal was to survive, get my degree and start the restaurant and business of my dreams; however surviving became thriving. Within two quarters at RIT I had earned my first scholarship, made Deans List, became an Executive Board member on the Hospitality Association, got accepted to Entrepreneur Hall and also made many friends and networks that I can only hope are here to stay. It only keeps getting better and it feels good to know that I have achieved that with persistence alone.

To get to know me:

Alexxandra Loughlin

Alexxandra Loughlin is 2nd year Hospitality Management with a concentration in Event Planning at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is from a small town called Oxford in Connecticut that makes its own ice cream. She loves social media and uses it for every purpose, professional, personal, pictures, and presentation. Her current profession is waiting tables and is a SafeServ certified server. She is extremely passionate about her job and her major, which is the basis for her hard work.
She loves being with people and loves her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, Delta Lambda chapter which, she credits for bringing her out of her shell and being her support.

Alexx can be reached at

Adam Pirro

I am a first year student at Rochester Institute of Technology majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management.  I knew from pretty early on that I wanted to work in the hospitality industry from my experience working in a local upscale restaurant. I quickly worked my way up from no experience through the ranks up to a server and then host. The experience in the fast paced and exciting restaurant environment left me hungry for more and urged my curiosity and need to explore the industry further. I then got a job working in a hotel as a banquet server at a DoubleTree which gave me a wider perspective on the industry and showed me different aspects that I could potentially get into.

My passion for travel has been one of the biggest driving forces in my life that have led me to the path I am currently on.  Visiting countries such as Italy, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Mexico have just fueled my passion and desire to see the world. I love the great opportunities the hospitality industry has to travel to many different places and meet many interesting people. Traveling has taught me that everyone has a story that is worth being told.

So far in college I feel I have put myself on a great path to my future. I’m a member of the executive board for the RITz Dinner; a large fundraising fine dining dinner through RIT. This is definitely giving me great hands on leadership experience and helping me to explore my strengths and weaknesses in this field.

My other passion is in action sports. I love water and snow skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, and riding anything with an engine and wheels. 

Elizabeth Starling

Elizabeth Sterling is a 3rd year Hospitality Food Management major with a Communications minor. She recently changed her major to fit with her passion, which is food. She is originally from Arizona but currently lives in North Carolina. She transferred to RIT from UNC this year so she is still learning more about RIT. She is hoping to join a club related to hospitality or food sometime in the future. She has a very outgoing personality and she doesn’t let her deafness limit her. She worked at a deaf camp, Camp Sertoma, as a sous chef.  She worked at multiple summer camps because she adores kids. She is hoping to manage her own restaurant one day, she wants to start off with a small local cafĂ© then work her way up to a five star restaurant. 

Maria del Mar Valencia Vallejo

I am a third year hospitality student at the RIT Hospitably Management program with a minor in Spanish Literature and Culture.  I have been in the hospitality business since I was in high school working for Choice Hotels and then moving on to working at the RIT INN. I have worked as a housekeeper, front desk agent and cater server. Currently, I am working at TRATA in order to get experience in the restaurant side of the industry before graduating. I like to be busy so I am currently working full time, going to school full time and I am also the RIT Hospitality Association President.  As president I am responsible for planning club trips, activities and keeping students and alumni involved with the program. This past fall I was just inducted to the Eta Sigma Delta Honor Hospitality Fraternity and I am really looking forward to be a part of this wonderful group of people.

I was born in Mexico City but both of my parents are from Spain so I was raised with the European Spanish culture. I have been the in the states since I was eight and wish to keep living here while still keeping in touch with my family in Mexico and Spain.

I am very close to my parents who live in Geneseo so after graduation I am looking to stay in the Rochester whether it is in the restaurant or hotel industry which is still under debate. 

Nicole Beletz

Nicole Beletz is currently a junior attending Syracuse University. She is studying Hospitality Management at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics with a focus in Event Planning, as well as a minor in Public Communications at the S.I. School of Newhouse of Public Communications. She is a hardworking and responsible student whom has received the Dean’s List Award for every semester she has attended Syracuse University as well as recognition into the National Honors Society for Collegiate Scholars.

Nicole has much enthusiasm for the entire hospitality industry but seeks to obtain a career for her true passion, which is in the events field. She loves being around people and always has a positive and upbeat attitude. Her five-year experience in the restaurant, events and catering business has taught her the customer service skills and knowledge she needs to exceed in this industry. Nicole is certified in Food Safety and Menu Management. Although she has had various internships and jobs in the field, she is always eager to  learn more which she will have the opportunity to do this summer at her internship in New York City for Paper Magazine and Extra Extra Events.

Overall, Nicole is excited to become a thought leader and share her knowledge of social media with others. While she is sharing her thoughts on social media, she is also open to learn new and exciting topics about the engaging and popular social media world! Please follow her on Twitter to keep posted on social media tips and comments.

Nicole Beletz
Syracuse University 2013
David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics
Hospitality Management Major, Public Communications Minor

Reya Benitez

Reya Benitez is currently a sophomore attending Syracuse University.  She is studying Hospitality Management at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.  Reya is from New York City, and has been exposed to the hospitality industry ever since she was a little girl.  She is incredibly hardworking and dedicated to her studies. Her friendly personality allows her to build a strong relationship with the industry that will help her in the future.  She is extremely organized and is ready to do whatever it takes to achieve her true career goal of becoming an event planner.

Reya has 3 years of experience in the hospitality industry, from working in the marketing department in the Morgan Hotel Group to working as a hostess and waitress in the Gotham City Restaurant Group in New York City.  Reya is certified in both Food Safety and Menu Management.   Overall, Reya is extremely excited to continue to further her knowledge of social media and share it with others. 

Reya Benitez
Syracuse University 2014 
David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics
Hospitality Management Major

Katelyn Block

Katelyn is an OrangeWoman at Syracuse University, living each day to better her own life through bettering others’. She hopes to pursue a degree through the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and a minor in Nutrition. Being the overachiever that she is, there will most likely be a double-major thrown in there as well.

Her senior year of high school, Katelyn began Chef Katelyn, the blog where she focuses on self-love and nourishing oneself with whole foods, a bit of sweat, and some sprinkles thrown in. Since beginning her blog in August of 2010, Katelyn’s audience has grown in sync with her Twitter followers, surpassing the thousands.

Katelyn can be reached at:

Nicole Gasman

Nicole Gasman is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University, studying Marketing and Hospitality Management. She is from Closter, New Jersey and attended Northern Valley Demarest High School. Nicole is a hard-working, dedicated, and responsible worker. 

Nicole has worked for businesses across the world, such as one in Florence, Italy. Her travels have made her more aware of the marketing field in which she would like to focus her career on. After having worked for several hotels, marketing brands, and day camps, Nicole’s experience has allowed her to flourish into the friendly, helpful, and outgoing person she has become.

Adam Gottdiener

Adam Gottdiener is from Westfield, New Jersey just forty five minutes from New York City.  Adam is a junior that is currently in Syracuse University, where he is studying Hospitality Management at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. 

Adam traveled across many different areas in the world and has worked at day camps in New Jersey as well the Boys and Girls Club in Hilo, Hawaii. Adam also has numerous experiences in many different areas of the hospitality industry.  He has worked at motels, concessions stands at different concerts such as on Governors Island in New York City, and one of the biggest import/export food services , Atalanta Corporation in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the world while also doing work in their social media division, marketing, major importations. 

Adam is building a strong hospitality background to succeed in the field. 

Dominique Johnson

Dominique Johnson is currently a senior at Syracuse University where she is studying Hospitality Management with a minor in Sociology. She lives in Bronx, NY but is originally from the island of Jamaica where the hospitality industry is a major sector of its economy. She is an aspiring hotel and tourism marketing industry professional. She has displayed excellent levels of customer service from being a guest service team member in the retail industry and a catering server in the food and beverage industry and is certainly a people person. Dominique recently interned at the famous Paramount Hotel in the heart of Times Square, New York City during the summer, from which she gained an extensive look at the ins and outs of the hotel industry, from housekeeping to guest relations.

Dominique cannot wait to enter the hospitality world and hopes to use social media to broaden her knowledge and network within the industry. Please follow Dominique on Twitter to become a part of her social media experience.

Dominique Johnson
Syracuse University ‘12
Hospitality Management Major, Sociology Minor

JiMin Lee

JiMin Lee is currently a senior, with a major in Hospitality Management at Syracuse University. She is from Seoul, South Korea. JiMin graduated from a high school in Victoria, Canada. 2012 marks her five years of living in the United States.

JiMin values her study-abroad experience, which helps her develop excellent problem-solving skills and build a strong personality. Living overseas also allows her to appreciate different cultures. JiMin likes to help people in need, and is always open to learn new knowledge and believe that people need to be open-minded when learning new materials.

JiMin is interested in fields of Hotels and Event planning. She is certified in Food Safety. In the field of Hotel, JiMin is interested to work as a concierge so that she can dedicate to provide second to none services to the guests.

JiMin Lee
Syracuse University 2012
David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics
Hospitality Management Major

Ying-Tsen (Sandy) Lin
Sandy Lin is a senior at Syracuse University with a major in Hospitality Management and a minor in Art History.  She is from Taoyuan City, Taiwan. Sandy started her education in the U.S. during her sophomore year in high school. Over the years, she has overcome many challenges of studying abroad with  positive attitude and dedicates to work and study. She received certification in HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) and Menu Planning.

Sandy is interested in a career opportunity destination resorts. She believes that people can find a place in nature to relax and have fun with family and friends during leisure time.  Her dream is to build a villa in a nature environment and plant lavender/ sunflower in the back yard.

Ying-Tsen(Sandy) Lin
Syracuse University, class of 2012

Lauren Wannermeyer

Lauren Wannermeyer is a senior Hospitality Management and Marketing student at Syracuse University. Having begun using social media recreationally, she realized that she would like to continue to use social media as a part of her career. Much of her professional experience thus far has involved communications and public relations strategy with a specific focus in digital and social media. Lauren has worked or interned for Syracuse University, Syracuse University Career Services, The Opportunities Project, BR Guest Hospitality and more. Now she currently acts as a student facilitator for HPM 200, the class that produces this blog. 

With professional experience in many different types of companies, she has garnered expertise in media and communications in such industries as Hospitality & Restaurants, Career Management, Not-For-Profit & Higher Education.

She is seeking a post-grad position as a community manager, social media/communications strategist or coordinator specifically in the entertainment industry. Her dream job would be to create and maintain a social voice for television. Much of her spare time is spent immersing herself in all forms of entertainment. She would love the chance to take her love of entertainment and pop culture and apply her skills in social and digital media. 

Lauren is a self-proclaimed pop culture addict who runs on Soy Chai Lattes from Starbucks. She is a Greek woman, having served on the executive council of her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta from 2010-2011 and she bleeds orange in support of her soon-to-be alma mate University. She likes to say "Orange is not just a color, it's a lifestyle." 

She has been featured as a blogger for Youtern's The Savvy Intern, The Opportunities Project, Syracuse University Career Services Slice of Advice and BR Guest Hospotality's BR Blog. 

Follow Lauren on Twitter and keep your eyes peeled for her brand new television blog that is currently under construction.

Lauren Wannermeyer
Syracuse University 2012
David B. Falk College of Sport & Human Dynamics
Matrin J. Whitman School of Management