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Oscar Goodman, Showgirl, Drop in on Hospitality Hero

Merissa Viviano captures prestigious award from LVCVA, and a toast from the Happiest Mayor on Earth

Business & Community  |  May 3, 2017  |  By Angela Ramsey

Former mayor Oscar Goodman dropped by campus to award Hotel College student Merissa Viviano the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's 2017 Hospitality Heroes Award. (R. Marsh Starks / UNLV Creative Services)

William F. Harrah Hotel College student Merissa Viviano is no stranger to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Last summer, she was a star intern for the LVCVA’s Global Sales Department.

But imagine Viviano’s surprise—after an unusual summon to the Dean Stowe Shoemaker’s office—when she was greeted by former mayor Oscar Goodman and presented with the LVCVA’s 2017 Hospitality Heroes Award in front of a shimmery audience of Las Vegas showgirls.

Having worked in food and beverage and gone to college in Florida, Viviano came to UNLV already armed with an associate’s degree and an established resume.  But her desire to stand out in this new and highly competitive college environment prompted her to take on new challenges, like serving as the chapter president for the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International student organization, participating in the college’s year-long Mentor Program, working as a student manager for UNLVino, and numerous other roles. Not to mention, she did all that while juggling a full class load and a demanding work schedule as a server at Wolfgang Puck’s Cucina.  

“Merissa is the hardest-working student I’ve ever seen,” said Bobbie Barnes, director of the college’s Bob Boughner Career Services team. “Through her leadership, her work ethic, and her enthusiastic desire to learn, she is the definition of a model student.”

The LVCVA Hospitality Hero award is given to students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievements, leadership qualities, and contributions to the hospitality field.

It is an honor Viviano will carry proudly into this month’s graduation ceremony and beyond as she launches her career in hospitality sales and marketing with a job at Mandalay Bay.