Starlyn Van Luik-I don't even know where to start, I wouldn't be where I'm at right now without your program. Cascadia is what kept the passion for traveling burning and opened my mind to all of the possibilities in the travel industry.

Being in the program for those two years has allowed me to experience different aspects of the travel industry. I tried Housekeeping Management, Travel Agency, and Airlines. I got to find out what I liked the most and decide what I wanted to do with my life.

I'd like to dedicate my first job to you, Ms. Brown. You're the person that got me the interview and would always advocate for me. Working as a Front Desk Agent for a hotel gave me the experience I needed with customers and it allowed me hands-on practice in problem solving skills. I love that you host numerous hotel interviews for students to give them that head start in the travel industry every year.

During the last few months of my senior year, you helped me decide what I was going to do after graduation. Deciding on college was a big deal to me and you helped me in choosing the best one for me. In July 2021 I attended the International Air and Hospitality Academy.

Some people may look at the travel industry and not see a fulfilling career. I, however, started with Delta Air Lines in November 2021 as an Airport Customer Service Agent, working the ticket counter, gates, and baggage service. I love my job and intend on staying with them until I'm ready to retire. They have great benefits and truly take care of their employees.

You gave me support for the three years that I knew you, now it's my time to show my support for you, for your program, and for Cascadia Tech. You were always my biggest supporter, thank you.


Nicole Uskoski-
I honestly don’t even know where to start. I LOVED your class. This was the class that I looked forward to going to each and every day.  I think that there were so many great skills learned in that class, no matter what type of work that a person does, it is beneficial. Currently, I am not working in the travel industry but as a Realtor. I have put lots of the skills that I have learned in your class to use, such as the importance of building customer relationships. You do an amazing job at what you do. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. You are an amazing teacher!!!!!!

Lorisa Rayborn-​My story might be unlike others being shared; I began attending the Skill Center,  which is now called Cascadia Tech Academy, in my junior year. I was a student of Mountain View and was enrolled in their credit recovery program, “No Thunder Left Behind”, at that time. My high school days were hard. I was not a good traditional student and felt lost in the traditional approach of high school.

I initially enrolled at the Skills Center to do the CNA program but due to my criminal charges I was unable to work with patients in the internship portion of that program. Although discouraged, I was offered the opportunity to enroll in the Travel and Hospitality program. Now, like I said, my high school days were hard for me. I got mixed up in the wrong crowd and made very poor decisions. I felt like I didn’t have any options or hope to find a good career for myself given my new criminal background. That was really difficult for someone who was young and trying to turn their life around. Hospitality wasn’t something I had previously considered, but given my circumstances it quickly became my best option. The Skills Center staff helped me change enrollment discreetly and get going in that program.

​When it came down to the curriculum and class structure, I really felt that the content that was covered really prepared each student for what working in the Hospitality industry demanded. We covered all aspects of traveling and associated services. What goes into the guest psychology considering all aspects of their needs and what they have potentially gone through prior to arriving at a hotel for an overnight stay. We learned about the inner workings of the hotels, airport codes, procedures and just about everything in between. Why hotels have carpets in hallways vs hardwood or tile. Why the drapes and room dressings are different. I mean, things you don’t even think about until it’s discussed in a way where those important details are highlighted. We focused on guest security and what that looks like from several angles. After all, being a hotel employee, you are in charge of keeping people safe.

Beyond the incredibly detailed curriculum, I think it’s worth discussing the support and community this program creates. At the end of our book study we applied for our internship properties. We got to take time to go view and be inspired by the vast array of partner hotels where we had the opportunity to work and learn hands on. This was a pivotal moment for me. I set my sights high. I wanted to work for either the Homewood Suites on the waterfront or the Heathman Lodge by the mall. I interviewed for both and was offered both options for my internship. Had I wanted to go to an airport hotel full service, extended stay or standard property, I had every option offered in this program. I think that it's important to recognize the value in this program and continue to support the students who take advantage of this educational experience. My internship at the Homewood Suites led to a full time food and beverage job being offered to me upon the completion of my program. I worked there for 2.5 years and moved to be a front desk agent after a year in F&B. From then on, I continued my career and eventually worked up to my end goal of becoming a group sales manager for a downtown Portland Convention Center hotel over the course of 10 successful years in the industry. I worked at 4 different hotels and made countless memories along the way. Interestingly enough my best friend who I met in this program is still my best friend to this day and we worked together at a property in downtown Portland for four years in the industry. It was 12 years ago that we met in this class and became friends.


Hospitality is more than an industry. This program is more than a high school curriculum. This program and my experiences from there have taught me so much and honestly I cannot imagine where I would be without having gone through this. I applaud  Ms. Brown and the CCSC faculty for offering this program to its students and supporting our communities to bring new talent into this workforce. Now more than ever, this industry needs new people to support the new challenges and continue improving the needed services that keep this country running. Please consider this email as a plea to keep funding this program and offering other students the opportunities I had to make a good life for themselves.