Hospitality Scholarship Helps Two Mason Students

Posted: October 8, 2013 at 5:01 am, Last Updated: October 9, 2013 at 7:00 am

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By Justin Lafreniere

Tourism and events management majors senior Nhu Nguyen and junior Linda Tran Koontz spend most of their time learning about ways in which they can help others. But thanks to the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association Education Foundation (VHTA) they will be getting some help of their own with a $2,000 scholarship.

Nominated by Maggie Daniels, associate professor in the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism (RHT), the two students received the award for their high GPA and excellent work ethic. While both knew they had been nominated and selected to receive the award, the amount was kept secret until a reception at Buffalo Wing University on Sept. 19.

For both students, the money means a great deal. Koontz pays for classes out of her own pocket, and the scholarship gives her, as she says, “a sense of relief.”

VHTA scholarship winners

The three scholarship recipients and VHTA representatives at the presentation. From left, Babette Wise, Northern Virginia Community College student; Nhu Nguyen, George Mason University student; VHTA Board Member Kristen Karrfalt, Residence in Arlington Courthouse; Linda Tran Koontz, George Mason University student; and VHTA Suppliers Association President Kelly Kuhn, A-1 Floodtech. Photo courtesy of Leslie Johnston

Nguyen will graduate debt-free, and the VHTA scholarship is a big part of that. But she also mentions that RHT’s tourism and events management program, housed in George Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, has been a great help for her from the outset. She has worked, thanks in part to help and connections from the program, as a film assistant, conference manager, ambassador and front desk agent, and even wedding coordinator.

Overall, $6,000 has been given to hospitality students at Mason and Northern Virginia Community College this year with money raised by the VHTA Northern Virginia Hotel Council and matched by the National Restaurant Educational Foundation.

Koontz says the award was a great show of confidence in her from the program and faculty. “I feel that my professors and the VHTA have faith and believe that I will be successful as a representative of George Mason University.”

Nguyen concurs. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support. Changing my major to tourism and events management is one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Write to Colleen Kearney Rich at ckearney@gmu.edu

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