Kathleen Caggiano had an extraordinary experience at RMU, where she studied hospitality and tourism management and played on the girls' soccer team (see Kathleen's senior year interview below). Now her career is starting to take off, thanks in part to her RMU education.
The following is a recent email from Kathleen to her hospitality and tourism management professors, Drs. Dennis Rudd, Richard Mills, and Ersem Karadag:
Drs. Rudd, Mills, and Karadag,
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you one last time for your help, support, praise, and the education you gave to me regarding the hospitality industry. Over the last four years you all helped make learning fun while still allowing me to gain the skills and knowledge I needed. This past Thursday I interviewed for and accepted a position at Marriott International. I will be working out of their mid-Atlantic regional offices in Bethesda, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C. My position is with a 13-person sales team; I will be supporting and assisting the two sales leaders of Montgomery County, Md. I just wanted to fill you all in, since you were all such important members in my education at RMU. Thank you for the knowledge, skills, and confidence I needed to succeed in the industry! I really appreciate everything you have done for me!
Sincerely, Kathleen Caggiano '11
Since being featured in RMU's "Change A Life" campaign, Kathleen has been promoted to Marriot's regional sales team, and now manages large group sales, meeting planning, and convention planning for about 110 hotels from Baltimore down to Charleston, S.C.
"I'm in a management role now as opposed to a sales coordinator role," she says. "After a year in this position, I will be looking to move up in the company again, and there is tons of room for growth and career development."
Kathleen, who grew up in Moon Township, says that living close to D.C. has been great. "I love the area – except for the cost of living – and it was a breath of fresh air just to get a new start in a place with all new people. So far it has been a great chapter in my life, and I am definitely glad I made the choice to move."
With so many opportunities for growth within her company, she says she plans on sticking around for a while to boost her career. "Everyone here is definitely on the fast track, career-wise, so it's not odd in this company to have 6-7 different jobs in 10 years."
Other than that, Kathleen's just enjoying her post-graduate life. "I pretty much just work and have a good time when I'm free."
Q: Have you changed someone else’s life?
A: I’m always trying to be helpful. A teammate had surgery and I assisted her as much as possible. I showed her that it will get better. I am also coaching a younger girl’s soccer team for my senior project and doing individual training with a girl who’s coming back from surgery. One girl was so appreciative she made me a pillow with her name on it as a gift.
Q: Who has changed your life?
A: I think it’s difficult to pinpoint any specific person. There are so many people in my life who have contributed to the person I am today. I would be completely different without my friends and family.
However, if I did have to choose one specific person, it would be my grandmother that just recently passed away. I never realized what a prominent part of my life she was until she was gone. I can honestly say that I have never met someone more perfect than her. I don’t think I ever will again.
As I said, there are so many great people in my life. I am truly thankful for the people I have right now as well as those I’ve lost, especially my grandma. She showed me how people deserve to be treated and just how much love you get in return when you do so.
Q: Why did you choose RMU?
A: I have known about RMU basically my whole life. I grew up here. I watched it change from a small commuter business school to a university and expand over the years. I chose RMU based mainly upon two main things—the opportunity to play soccer on scholarship and the hospitality program. Many universities do not have specific hospitality programs like RMU does. And RMU is well known for its business program, especially since it became accredited by AACSB.
Q: What do you like best about the program?
A: The professors. Professors Mills, Karadag, and Rudd go out of their way to build relationships with students. Your success is important to them. They are always willing to help with anything. They care about the students in their program and are so passionate and knowledgeable about what they do. They want to see us all succeed.
All of the faculty members in the hospitality program are phenomenal to students. A number of other faculty members at this school have been very helpful as well. Many professors go out of their way to help and ensure that you understand the material whereas in larger universities you are simply a number on a roster to many professors. The small class sizes here at RMU are a key factor.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the future?
A: There are a few things I could potentially see myself doing. Hotel management is one of the most obvious options based upon the degree I will have. It is something I have been passionate about for many years. Another thing I have also thought about for my future is becoming an entrepreneur of some type, whether it be in catering, party planning, opening a restaurant or bakery, etc. There are so many options for me with my degree that all happen to also be passions of mine.
Q: Would you recommend RMU?
A: Yes. And the first thing I would say to students when recommending RMU is that the small class sizes here are crucial to getting a quality education. Many students see the lure of a big school with a nationally recognized name and don’t realize that the title on the degree does not guarantee that they will get education they need to succeed.
RMU’s professors are able to give students personal attention, not just lecture to hundreds of kids at a time. The wealth of information you will receive here is far greater than at a school with large class sizes and it will show later on in your career.
Q: How would you describe RMU?
A: If I could describe RMU in one word it would be community. I feel like everyone here knows almost everyone else and it’s almost like its own world hidden from the view of University Boulevard. No one really knows what it's like here until you’ve experienced it.