When Evan Coyne first saw the opulent ceiling of Dubai’s sailboat-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel lounge filled with clusters of Swarovski crystals, she recalled thinking, “Who thought of something like this?”
The answer was a revelation that someday she may be the one designing or managing such a dramatic tourist location.
“I guess I never realized how many options or directions you can go in with this industry,” says Coyne, who has acquired many hands-on and academic experiences in the area of tourism and hospitality since she began at Rochester Institute of Technology.
The third-year hospitality major in RIT’s School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation was recently awarded the prestigious Statler Foundation Scholarship of Excellence. It is given to students for outstanding academic performance and extracurricular activities associated with the hospitality and tourism industry.
In the past year, she has participated in academic trips to the American College of Management and Technology in Croatia, where she took classes for one quarter, and to Dubai for a special-topics course about tourism in the Middle East.
“For any hospitality major, Dubai is the ultimate place to see. It is a different world,” she says of the week-long trip that included visits to various hotels, yacht clubs and golf courses, as well as meetings with managers from each to talk about the varied careers within the hospitality industry.
Yet the Palmyra native had as much praise for her home department and its people as the exotic locales she has visited.
“The department has encouraged me for everything, the RITz, Croatia, Dubai, this scholarship,” says Coyne. “Without them, this wouldn’t be possible.”
Since her first year at RIT, Coyne participated in the committee to plan the RITz Dinner, the annual black-tie fundraiser for RIT Hospitality Education Fund. She was finance director and organized the pre-event Silent Auction. She is a two-term president of the RIT Hospitality Association, overseeing the student organization and helping to plan its annual excursion to the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show in New York City. The student association goes to the annual convention and visits with RIT hospitality alumni working in hotels and restaurants in the city. This fall, she is also a resident assistant in Nathaniel Rochester Hall.
Over the summer, she worked as a sales coordinator at Steamboat Landing Resort and volunteered at the New York Wine and Culinary Center, both located in Canandaigua, N.Y. She and classmate Alycia Rogers also worked with Sheryl Crow’s personal chef, Chuck White, when the singer performed at Darien Lake Theme Park and Resort this summer. All of these experiences were factors in her receiving the prestigious scholarship.
Study abroad travel to visit the luxury of Dubai’s hotels and Croatia’s historical places influenced her to see the many possibilities a degree in hospitality can provide.
“I am unsure of where I would like to be a year from now,” she adds, “but I am excited to see where the industry will take me.”