For Remi Levinson, the hospitality management degree program at the University of Missouri offered her exactly what she was looking for. Levinson has always had an interest in planning events – and saw the hospitality management program as a great opportunity to build on that interest, as well as give her additional insights into one of the largest industries in the United States.
“As I was settling on a major and looking through the various courses that were offered, hospitality management definitely stood out to me,” Levinson said. “The requirements of the program really hit on things that I enjoy.”
Levinson, who is from St. Louis, Mo., and attended Parkway Central High School, said she originally wasn’t sure that MU was the right fit for her.
“I thought Mizzou was a bit too big, honestly,” Levinson said. “Once I toured, though, I was sold. I loved it immediately and knew I would fit in.”
Levinson said that she found some friend groups quickly, including within the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She got involved with her degree program, too, although the pandemic didn’t allow them to meet in-person for events as often. She did get to take part in a couple of industry tours, though. Levinson had the opportunity to go to Kansas City, where she and classmates toured Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City Royals), Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs) and the Kansas City Convention Center.
“I’m glad that we were able to do a few things for sure,” Levinson said. “It’s always important to get those type of experiences outside of the classroom.”
Levinson’s biggest hands-on learning experience came as an employee of the Drury Plaza Hotel in Columbia. She began at the Drury as an intern; that experience eventually turned into a full-time job a few months later.
“I was really happy to have the opportunity to continue as an employee, as I really like the people and the environment at the hotel,” Levinson said. “The managers are really great, too. It’s been a really great hands-on experience overall.
“I’ve also learned so much about guest services, and it’s made me really appreciate those services when I’m the customer.”
Levinson has worn a few different hats while working for the hotel.
“My primary focus has been working at the front desk,” Levinson said. “I’ve done a little bit of everything, though. I’ve helped bartend and I’ve done some housekeeping work. It’s been really interesting to see some of the different facets of the hotel industry.”
Levinson said experiences of that nature are what made the hospitality management degree the right choice for her. She was excited to be in a major where the information she was learning in the classroom translated immediately to work outside of the classroom.
“I like the fact that I actually use what I’m learning in the classroom in real life, such as at work,” Levinson said. “It’s exciting to be able to learn something in the classroom and then turn around and apply it right away.”
After graduation, Levinson said she will continue to work for the Drury Plaza for the next few months. In July, she will begin a one-year program with the Marriott in downtown St. Louis. The program allows new graduates the chance to learn the ropes, and Levinson will be focused on event planning throughout the duration of her time there.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Levinson said. “I can’t wait to gain more experience – and the fact that I get to work in event planning is amazing. I’ve always found event planning incredibly rewarding and to have a full-time opportunity to do it day-to-day is going to be a great learning experience.”