FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management Honors Alumni Accomplishments with First Ever Rising Star Awards
Florida International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality Tourism Management awarded 18 of their top alumni with the very first Rising Star Awards during the first on campus alumni reunion in the school’s 47-year history. The alumni all graduated after the year 2000 and are top in their field in every aspect of the hospitality and tourism industry, from Beverage Management, to Hotel Management to Cruise Management and Restaurant Ownership and Operations.
“We’re proud of our alumni and all that they have accomplished,” said FIU Professor Emeritus Rocco M. Angelo, who hosted the event, with Interim Dean Michael Cheng and distinguished alumnus, Burt Cabañas, who graduated from FIU’s Chaplin School in 1976. Cabañas is the founder of BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company. Today, BENCHMARK® has a portfolio of more than 80 unique hotels, resorts and conference centers globally.
The Rising Star Awards also resulted in the school’s first official alumni reunion on campus. FIU Chaplin School grads who were honored and their families gathered at the Biscayne Bay Campus for an afternoon of delicious food, catered by various school alumni, including Alex Kuk, BS ’04 and MS ’08, who is co-owner of Temple Street Eatery in Ft. Lauderdale. “I think it’s great that we are going to have an annual alumni reunion at the school, this way we can showcase the progress of the school, the students, the faculty and remind alumni that investing in the school means to invest in the future of our industry,” said Kuk, who received the Chaplin School Service Award for his efforts in bringing attention to the school’s alumni and giving back to current students.
The Rising Stars Award Winners, listed in alphabetical order, are:
-Liudmila Katsiak, ’15, is the Hotel Feasibility Strategic Insight Analyst of Host Hotels Resorts and the recipient of the Rising Star Hotel Development Award.
-Luis Rivera, ’15 and MBA ’19, is Rooms Operation Manager and handles Operations Support Resources, Americas at Marriott International and recipient of the Rising Star Hotel Rooms Division.
The afternoon of celebration afforded guests the chance to enjoy various food stations and hors d’oeuvres, drinks and music, while sharing stories and memories about their days at the Chaplin School. After the awards, school mascot, Roary, and the FIU cheerleaders pumped up the crowd while carrying over-sized paper head cutouts of the award winners. Everyone laughed and cheered with some heard saying, “I can’t wait until next year.”
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