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Press Release

MSU Denver announces spring 2015 Dimond fellows and lauds achievements of inaugural class

Posted: February 26, 2015

Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Rita and Navin Dimond Hotel Management Program announced its spring 2015 fellowship recipients.

The Dimond Fellowship Program, endowed through a generous gift from the Dimond family, was established to foster excellence and passion in future hospitality leaders. Dimond fellows are provided 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.  

“I learned high-level HR skills that I simply couldn’t acquire over my early career in the hospitality field,” said Lauren Spagnuolo, a member of the inaugural class and now a human resource manager with Stonebridge Companies. “The fellowship gave me the experience and network I needed to apply for and get a management role in human resources.”

Spagnuolo is not the only member of the inaugural class to benefit from the program. After demonstrating their skills as interns, all four previous fellows were offered positions to continue working for Stonebridge Companies in varying capacities.   

“I am so pleased with what our inaugural fellows achieved,” said Navin Dimond, who is founder, president and CEO of Stonebridge Companies and a member of the MSU Denver Foundation Board. “I am optimistic that the new group of students will excel in the same rich learning environment and be prepared to make a strong impact on the hospitality profession.”

About the new class of the Dimond Hotel Management Fellows:

/media/content/schoolofhospitality/TaylorBates.jpgTaylor Bates began helping plan events as a high school student at Westlake Academy in Texas, which was the impetus for her path to MSU Denver and a career in hospitality and event planning.

Bates worked as an intern at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas for a summer and currently works as a sales representative for Michaels Arts & Crafts. She has spent time as a volunteer with UNICEF and Fortress, a youth development center.

By pursuing a career in hospitality and event planning, she hopes to travel widely and experience a variety of cultures while applying his passion for working with and for people.

/media/content/schoolofhospitality/AndrewHensley.jpgAs a fourth generation Coloradan and third son of a retired school teacher and an airline reservations agent, Andrew Hensley has observed and learned significantly from his parents’ example of working in service to others.

Hensley chose the hospitality field, wanting to emulate the service provided by his parents, because it most closely aligns with his sensibilities, believing that travel can be an enlightening experience, and can foster understanding among people.

He is currently an employee at the Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel in Broomfield.

/media/content/schoolofhospitality/MayyaMacaleese.jpgMayya Macaleese is an international student from Russia who speaks four languages, including Chinese and Spanish. Having previously been employed at The Broadmoor Hotel as a server for a short time before going back to Russia in 2011, she is now a sales representative at REI and working toward getting direct experience in the hospitality industry again.

“I am glad that my current job helps me improve my social, leadership, communication and professional skills that would be very useful to implement in my future job at a hotel. But, I am eager for this opportunity to get real training in the hospitality industry.”

/media/content/schoolofhospitality/SaraOlan.jpgSara Olan, in addition to her position as vice president of the Rocky Mountain Professional Convention Management Association (RMPCMA) student chapter at Metropolitan State University of Denver, currently takes 18 credit hours and works 30 hours a week as a customer service representative for Crate & Barrel, CSG, and Expo Masters.

Fluent in Spanish, Olan admits that “there are definitely times when my life gets really stressful, moments when I wonder to myself if it is all worth it, but in the end, I know that working in this industry is what I want and I know that working as hard as I do will eventually pay off.”

/media/content/schoolofhospitality/JessicaPlude.jpgJessica Plude works as a sales consultant for Carmax and is a former manager with Home Depot and Domino’s Pizza.

After taking a few years off from school, Plude has recommitted herself to earning her degree and expanding her career opportunities. She wants to combine her passion for the culinary world with her customer service and business background.

“Growing up, I remember my family always reminding me that I should never give up no matter how hard it can be. Looking back, I am glad I never forgot that.”

/media/content/schoolofhospitality/BrittineySierra.jpgBrittiney Sierra is a full-time student and the human resources assistant assistant with Argus Event Staffing, LLC.

In addition, she volunteers for Food for Thought and the Special Olympics Colorado while holding positions as treasurer with the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Meeting Professionals International and secretary for the MSU Denver Rotaract Club.

Through her experiences, including a semester abroad, she has developed an interest in the business side of the hospitality industry and plans to pursue that further after graduation.


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 58 majors plus master’s degrees in accounting, teaching and social work. More than 21,000 students are currently enrolled at MSU Denver, and 75 percent of the University’s nearly 77,000 graduates have remained in Colorado as valuable members of the state’s workforce. 

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