Instead of spending the close of summer beating the heat, high-school sophomores, juniors and seniors participating in Cheyney University of Pennsylvania’s Hotel, Restaraunt, and Tourism Management (HRTM) Hyatt Summer Bridge Program are basking in the rising temperatures of the kitchen at a campus eatery, The Grille, designing, prepping and preparing gourmet meals.
Led by Associate Professor and Chair of the Hospitality and Recreation Management Department, Dr. Ivan Turnipseed, the Hyatt Summer Bridge Program targets students who want to enter the vast and ever-growing Hospitality and Tourism industry.
“This year we have 17 students, from 15 high-schools in five states. The states are Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. This is the most diverse group that we’ve hosted and this is our fourth year,” says Dr. Turnipseed.
Throughout this week-long residential program, which takes place from Sunday, August 6 to Friday, August 11, students are participating in interactive field trips, activities and breakout sessions that focus on the 5 major areas of Hospitality.
“When we teach and talk about Hospitality here at Cheyney, we talk about it in 5 different areas: Hotels and Lodging, Food and Beverage, Travel and Tourism, Recreation and Leisure, and Meetings and Events,” explains Dr. Turnipseed.
On the program’s first full-day, students delved into the area of Food and Beverage with a visit to the Rushton Woods Preserve and Farm in nearby Malvern, PA. There they learned more about the harvesting and growing process and picked produce to bring back to Cheyney. Following their return to campus, students headed to The Grille, where Manager and HRTM Adjunct Instructor Christine Amarosa Neugebauer shared her ‘chef-pertise’, teaching the group kitchen safety, food preparation methods and food plating techniques.
Among the group of young apprentices who eagerly absorbed Neugebauer’s 40 years of experience in the Food Service and Hospitality industry, was 15-year-old Tyvina Taylor of South Philadelphia, who had zero qualms about her decision to attend, “I’m enjoying the program and know that Hospitality will be my career – there are no if’s, and’s or but’s about that,” Taylor assured.
Four current HRTM students are also on-hand serving as mentors to the aspiring professionals. “I was a program mentor last year and I loved it,” said rising senior Wesley Thorn. “In high-school I wasn’t able to participate in programs like this, so giving back feels good.”
Outside of the kitchen, students are also engaged via the daily mentoring and Q&A sessions, “Hyatt Heart-to-Heart and the “Cheyney Chat”, in which industry professionals video-conference in to discuss their careers and experiences in the Hospitality field. The “Cheyney Chat” featuring HRTM grads that have advanced to competitive positions, are adding an extra special flair to the informative discussions. May 2017 Cheyney graduate Tyneesah Davenport, now a Food Service Manager at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN, was included in the line-up, Skyping in with students on Day 3.
Students also have some extra-curricular fun tossed in this week’s itinerary, with field-trips to the AMC Dine-In Theater, Hershey Park and Citizens Bank Park to watch the Philadelphia Phillies take on the New York Mets.
A $7,000 grant from the Hyatt Hotels Corporation alongside an additional $5,000, raised through corporate partnerships, covers all program costs for students, including food, lodging, activities and materials.