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Press Release

MSU Denver announces inaugural fellows of Rita and Navin Dimond Hotel Management Program

Contact: Tim Carroll, Office 303-556-5136, Cell 303-870-7705

Posted: September 9, 2014

DENVER – Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Rita and Navin Dimond Hotel Management Program announced its fall 2014 fellowship recipients.

The Dimonds committed $1.5 million to the Hospitality, Tourism and Events Department to support the Hotel Management Program, named in their honor. A significant portion of the Dimonds’ generous donation was specifically reserved to endow the Dimond Fellowship Program as a shared commitment to excellence and a passion for fostering future hospitality leaders. The endowment has the capacity to fund 10 student-fellows each year.

“Our fellowship will enable deserving students interested in hospitality to excel in a rich and captivating learning environment,” said Navin Dimond, who is founder, president and CEO of Stonebridge Companies and a member of the MSU Denver Foundation Board. “We are hopeful that this program will support all MSU Denver students in pursuit of excellence, while specifically aiding those who strive to make a strong impact on the hospitality profession.”

Dimond fellows are provided many unique professional development opportunities including a paid internship with the executive teams at Stonebridge Companies hotels for one semester as part of their senior experience. Each year, one exceptional Dimond fellow will be given a $5,000 award and the opportunity to participate in a year-long, paid hotel general manager apprenticeship at a Stonebridge Companies property.

About the inaugural class of the Dimond Hotel Management Fellowship:

Joe Boss was inspired to dedicate his life to a career in hospitality when he was seven years old. His grandmother showed him a box of his great-grandfather’s hotel and restaurant memorabilia, including name tags, menus and hotel blueprints. “My grandmother told me the story of my great-grandfather, how he would run each hotel, buy and sell new bars and restaurants, and how he lost it all in the Great Depression. I knew at that point that I wanted to own my own hotel and restaurant one day.” In addition to studying as a full-time student and working as a server at Texas Roadhouse, Boss is the 2014-15 elected student trustee to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees.
Jillian Grimm, a Long Island, NY native, moved to Colorado in 2008 and fell in love with the mountains and the world of hospitality. “There is something simply satisfying about putting a smile on another person’s face. The smallest gesture can turn someone’s day around.” She currently works as a banquet server at the Embassy Suites Downtown Denver and as an executive suite concierge at Sports Shares.
Tristin Lawrence has a goal to one day become the general manager of a luxury hotel. A 10-year veteran of the hospitality industry, she came to MSU Denver after working two full-time jobs in Aspen. One day, her human resources manager asked, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” This eye-opening question led her three weeks later to register for classes at MSU Denver. “Leaving Aspen shows how important this dream of success in hospitality is to me, how much I was willing to give up and how far I’m willing to go.”
Lauren Spagnuolo works full time as a human resources professional while studying at MSU Denver as a full-time student. She has worked for the DoubleTree by Hilton Westminster, the Brown Palace and Vail Resorts. Spagnuolo loves working in human resources because “you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the employee. You are their advocate and must assist managers in understanding the HR perspective in decision-making.” 


The Dimond fellows selected represent the passion, determination and academic excellence expected by Navin Dimond, whose Stonebridge Companies is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading development and hospitality-management companies.



MSU Denver’s Hospitality Learning Center

Conveniently located in downtown Denver on the Auraria Campus, the building is the first of its kind in the Rocky Mountain West and connects a select-service hotel to learning facilities. The complex features a 150-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott, a 28,000-square-foot Hospitality Learning Center and a 5,000-square-foot conference center. The combination of classroom instruction and interactive laboratories provides an experiential curriculum for MSU Denver’s diverse undergraduate student population, as well as current professionals seeking continuing education.


About Metropolitan State University of Denver

MSU Denver is a leader in educating Coloradans in university programs particularly relevant to the state’s economy and the demands of today’s employers. With the highest number of ethnically diverse students among the state’s four-year colleges, MSU Denver offers 55 majors plus master’s degrees in accounting, teaching and social work. More than 22,000 students are currently enrolled at MSU Denver, and 75 percent of the University’s 77,000 graduates have remained in Colorado as valuable members of the state’s workforce. 

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