CAFNR Senior Spotlight – Kelly Gillespie

Gillespie is a senior graduating in May with a degree in hospitality management.

Why did you choose to come to the University of Missouri?

Kelly Gillespie

All my life, it was a given to my family that I was going to go to Mizzou. To be completely honest, however, Mizzou was not my first choice when looking at colleges. I went all around to 6 other colleges because I thought even though Mizzou and CAFNR had worked as a college for my family, that it wasn’t going to be the right fit for me. Then, I finally came to my last college visit, which was to Mizzou. I was extremely impressed by the number of resources and opportunities for the hospitality management program, and everything felt right. I ended up liking it so well, that I decided Mizzou was the right fit for me to help me grow personally and professionally. Now since I have been on campus, I have loved my time with CAFNR, and am so glad I made the choice to go to Mizzou. I couldn’t be more proud to say I’m a fourth-generation student and a true Tiger!

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in hospitality management?

In high school, I was very involved in groups like Student Council, Key Club, and Band. In these I planned lots of events and realized that I loved this! Once I found out I could major in Hospitality and met my professors, I thought this was the perfect degree for me!

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities? If so, could you talk about those experiences?

I have been very involved with extracurricular activities. Currently, I am a CAFNR Ambassador, and I was also the President of the Mizzou Special Events Society. Along with this, I worked on campus with the Campus Activities Programming Board, also known as StufftodoatMU. With this organization, I was an Event Chair that planned large campus, safety, and veterans events on campus, and I was the Executive Director of the organization, where I helped oversee the organization, lead meetings, and execute events. Additionally, I was a part of the Mizzou Presidents’ Council, where I worked with Dr. Stackman and other campus leaders to discuss the future of Mizzou. I have been involved in these organizations because of the wonderful experiences to network and apply what I’ve learned in class to real-world situations!

Did you partake in any research, study abroad or internship opportunities? What did you enjoy about those experiences?

I have had multiple internships and study abroad experiences. My first internship was with the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Then, I was able to study abroad last summer in Italy and Spain. In Italy, I was a Bakery Intern in the Fedora Pastry Lab. Additionally, this past winter, I studied abroad in Portugal, and this summer I will be an Intern for the Amadeus Festival in Vienna, Austria! I have really loved all of these experiences, as I have been able to apply what I’ve learned in my courses to multiple areas of Hospitality. I also have grown incredibly through my experiences abroad, both professionally and personally!

What is a favorite memory you have during your time in CAFNR?

It is so hard to choose! If I had to pick one, it would be when I got to take 3 students from France to a Mizzou Football game! I had such a good time getting to know them, tailgating, and watching the game with them!

How did your degree program prepare you for the future?

My degree prepared me for the future through the support from my professors, and learning about multiple fields of hospitality. I also was able to make many connections with other students and alumni that led to different jobs while in college, such as my current job as a Banquet Manager at Eclipse Catering. These experiences have all prepared me to be a stronger leader in the Hospitality industry and given me the confidence to do so!

What are your future plans?

Post-graduation, I will be a summer intern for the Amadeus Festival in Vienna, Austria! Once I get back to the U.S. I have also been accepted into the Disney College Program in Orlando! I am so excited for these upcoming adventures!