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.