PUC student receives 4 scholarships, demonstrates entrepreneurial spirit

Purdue University Calumet Hospitality and Tourism Management student, Jessica Oxford, is the recipient of four hospitality scholarships for the 2011-12 academic year.

Oxford, of Indianapolis, won the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) 2011 Academic Scholarship for Undergraduate Students for exhibiting an entrepreneurial spirit and commitment towards a career in the restaurant industry.  Applicants for this scholarship represent hospitality schools throughout the United States to which the NRAEF has awarded $11 million in merit-based scholarships.

“You have to have a service-oriented personality,” HTM Coordinator Geralyn Farley said.  “And Jessica has it.  It’s what hospitality is all about.  You have to have a heart to serve others, and that’s something you can’t teach.”

Oxford, a sophomore and assistant manager at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Cedar Lake, is the first in the program to receive this scholarship.  She learned of the scholarship opportunities through interactions with Farley and the department’s Facebook page.

“It takes effort to apply for scholarships,” Farley said.  “But there are resources if you really want them.  Jessica did, and she followed through with it.”

Oxford also received the Wanda C. Dudzik Memorial Scholarship, which awards commitment to food and beverage management; the White Lodging Services Future Leaders Scholarship, which advances education in the HTM program; and the WLS Alumni & Friends Scholarship, which develops professionals in HTM students.  Each scholarship requires selection by Purdue Calumet’s HTM Department Scholarship Award Committee or their designee.

“My mom called me and told me the news regarding the three from the HTM department, and I couldn’t believe it,” Oxford said.  “Then the same day, I checked my email and was notified about being awarded the NRAEF scholarship.  I called my mom back, crying because I was so happy.”

The NRAEF scholarship required applicants to submit two essays, one to three letters of recommendation, verification of work experience in the food industry and enrollment in an accredited hospitality program.

Oxford plans to utilize her studies after graduation in various facets of the HTM industry, including restaurants, hotels and cruises.  She said one aspect of the industry she would love to pursue is opening an all-organic restaurant that uses recycled and recyclable materials.

More information about the Purdue Calumet Hospitality and Tourism Management program can be obtained by contacting Geralyn Farley at 219/989-2714 or farley@purduecal.edu.