UNLV International Gaming Institute and Core Academy Surprise Winning Team of Inaugural Young Executive Scholars (YES) Hospitality & Tourism Program With $40,000 in Scholarships
Young Executive Scholars (YES)—the program that united the project-based mentoring of Core Academy, powered by The Rogers Foundation, with the gaming-hospitality expertise of UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI) —recently came to an exciting conclusion. Following group project presentations, a celebration of the inaugural class was held, and the winning project and team were revealed. While it was originally planned to award one outstanding participant with a $10,000 scholarship, in a surprise move, each member of the four-person winning team received a $10,000 scholarship made possible by an anonymous donor.
As part of the four-week course designed to enhance the pipeline of homegrown hospitality talent, the students participated in a team competition, with each team imagining, designing, and presenting their own world-class integrated resort business and community plans. Following judging from a panel of industry and academic experts, Emma Hortan, Oscar Gavino, Victor Heredia Jr., and Jimena Hernandez-Duran—who are entering eleventh grade in the fall and are Core Academy program participants—were named the winning team for their resort titled J’oe La Vi.
“While each of the projects and presentations were impressive, the winning team really took their creativity and innovation up a notch by pouring in extra hours and working together as one. It was a proud moment to watch all the students present—watching them grow from a group of curious, timid high school students into creative, mature, insightful hospitality experts pitching college-level-quality business plans after just a few weeks. We actually could see what they learned this summer come to life in their final presentations,” said Shekinah Hoffman, UNLV IGI special project coordinator, who oversaw the program.
Modeled after the IGI and University of Nevada, Reno’s world-class Executive Development Program, the four-week YES program introduced 20 college-bound high school scholars to the hospitality and tourism industry. During the summer program, scholars experienced a number of special opportunities, including interaction with some of the most prominent figures in the hospitality industry, exclusive back-of-house tours and experiential outings, and one-on-one classroom mentoring time. Additionally, they enjoyed incredible donations from Caesars Entertainment and The Rogers Foundation, who together made the program possible; and laptops from Aristocrat Technologies—all while discovering the various career opportunities available to them in the hospitality and tourism industry right here in Las Vegas.
“We are all so proud of and impressed by these student scholars,” said Lindsay Harper, Executive Director or Core Academy, powered by The Rogers Foundation. “Many of them admittedly had very limited knowledge about the hospitality industry that fuels the economy in their own backyard. For them to get to meet so many industry leaders and explore the wide variety of fields within the tourism sector was really an amazing and impactful opportunity.”
In addition to the four $10,000 scholarships, all participating student scholars were surprised to learn they will be going to see “JENNIFER LOPEZ: ALL I HAVE,” exclusively at The AXIS Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, with a special backstage meet-and-greet with Jennifer Lopez herself.
Experience the excitement of the moment the winning team found out they'd received surprise scholarships in this video.
Check out this video to learn more about the YES scholars' experience in the program,