UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Kirsten Marroni arrived at University Park, she knew it was important for her to get involved on campus in order to make friends and feel connected to her major, hospitality management.
After talking with student leaders of various organizations, Marroni was captivated by their passion for their respective clubs. Ultimately, she joined the Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society (PSHRS), the oldest program-affiliated alumni group at Penn State. This year, Marroni is president of the student chapter.
“I feel that passion now with PSHRS and want to share that with my fellow peers. That is what I love most about being a student leader,” Marroni said.
Marroni and 13 other student leaders within the School of Hospitality Management (SHM) attended the Sara C. Parks Student Leadership Workshop, held in August at Café Laura. Parks is a nutritionist, professor emerita and former director of SHM. The workshop is offered through her endowment.
Led by Michael Tews, associate professor of hospitality management, and Jackie Golas, special events coordinator for SHM, participants explored various aspects of successful leadership.
“The purpose of the event was to enhance the leadership and teamwork skills of our talented group of student leaders,” Tews said. “Specifically, we hope that the event will help the leaders develop strategies to attract, retain and foster engagement among their members. Furthermore, we intended the event to encourage collaboration across the various student groups.”
David Miles, Penn State alumna, former student and alumni president of PSHRS, and chairman of Miles LeHane Companies Inc., served as keynote speaker, reviewing with students different personalities leaders encounter in the workplace, the difference between managing and leading, the importance of clarifying goals, and various types of leadership styles.
“I really want you to have an understanding about yourself. You can’t lead effectively if you don’t know who you are,” said Miles, who graduated from an affiliate program of SHM in 1967. “If you don’t know your management style, you can’t be a good leader.”
For Marroni, the workshop was a platform that allowed student leaders to connect and build on their leadership experiences.
“I walked away feeling inspired,” Marroni said. “All of the student leaders wanted the same goals for their clubs as I do for PSHRS. Involvement and retention were the two words used the most during the day. I believe that all of us working together will help us achieve these goals.”
Donna Quadri-Felitti, director and associate professor of the School of Hospitality Management, said opportunities like the Sara C. Parks Student Leadership Workshop help prepare students to become role models among peers in addition to advancing their career prospects.
"Employers, who consistently praise the high quality of graduates they hire from our program, acknowledge these leadership skills are highly desirable attributes,” Quadri-Felitti said. “Through this workshop we also strengthen our culture of service and student engagement that is a part of the Penn State ethos as well as professional success."