Samantha Doolittle finished her studies last winter, making her the first graduate of the master’s program in The Collins College of Hospitality Management. The Washington native found the path to Collins led her back home and jump-started her career.
By Samantha Doolittle
I am a firm believer in the philosophy that life is an adventure and a journey that should be enjoyed. One should not look at big changes with fear but rather embrace them as opportunities.
I have been blessed to have a wonderful support structure of phenomenal friends, loving family and a soul mate, Ryan Millard. When I was laid off nine months after earning my bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University, their support gave me the strength to claim a future I wanted.
I fell in love with the hospitality industry with my first job as an account manager at WorldMark by Wyndham, but that chapter in my life was cut short when the economy crashed. My company laid off 6,000 employees, including me. Shortly after, my fiancé was offered a dream job 1,200 miles away from our home. I’m of the mindset that life is meant to be lived, so I began to look at what I wanted from this turn of events. I knew that I didn’t want to be separated by those miles, even though I didn’t know what life would hold for me down there.
I made a radical decision to apply for grad school. I would make myself more marketable and further my education so I too could reach for my dream job. That is how I found The Collins College of Hospitality Management.
Through the class, Advanced Culinary Product Development and Evaluation, I was introduced to Grill Concepts and was offered paid social media consultation work. This gave me hands-on work experience and helped open new doors. Anxious to finish my studies and embark on the working world, I took an accelerated approach to the program. I knew California was just a stop along the road in my life. It was a stop that would forever bless my life, but I wanted to start that life. I wanted to face the world not as a kid, not as a student, but as a working adult.
I am honored to be the first graduate of the Master of Science in Hospitality Management program. The journey was filled with high highs and low lows, and many late night study sessions to prepare for grueling exams. It was an honor to work with talented instructors, especially with my mentor Dr. Edward Merritt, in a competitive and challenging peer environment. The knowledge acquired through such a dynamic and comprehensive curriculum, coupled with numerous hands-on, real-world explorations — presented me with a phenomenal platform to jump into the working world.
The foundation and experience gained through this incredible graduate program led me to my dream job. Within two weeks of presenting my professional paper, I was hired on as the marketing/membership director at the Central Park Tennis Club in Seattle. Ryan also secured a new position back home, and we are fully prepared for what lies ahead. We are living our dreams and enjoying our adventure. I owe a debt of gratitude to The Collins College for helping me get there.