Moving their tassels from right to left, graduates of the 2012 class of the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI) came together to celebrate at their graduation ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain on November 22.
It was a bittersweet moment for many as they said goodbye to their classrooms and friends they made in Chaguaramas and set their sights on the world of work.
Starting promptly at 10 a.m., family, friends and teachers stood for the procession of the graduates as they came up on stage one by one to collect their certificates.
Embracing this year's theme—"Stepping into the Global Arena", William Aguiton, chairman of the board of governors at TTHTI, had some words of encouragement for the graduates.
"Developing your career is like building a house, and that the successful completion of your studies will be the foundation on which to build any such career. While some of you may already be engaged in some aspect of the hospitality and tourism industries, and the others will shortly embark on your new careers, all of you, I am sure, must be very happy today that this part of your education is over," he said.
"It is constantly said that tourism is the fastest-growing industry in the world, and the greatest employer of people, a great generator of foreign exchange, and an industry that has tremendous economic impact on several other industries that must provide goods and services to our hotels, guest houses and restaurants," Aguiton said.
He noted that development is taking place within the tourism industry since over the years there has been an increase in the stock of hotel rooms and restaurants which provide an abundance opportunities for anyone desiring to enter the field.
Aguiton said, "Let us always remember that people are the greatest assets of any country. The value of this human asset, however, depends on the level of its development, its education, its obedience to law and order, and the contribution it makes to the further advancement of our economy and country."
Giving her own recipe for success, Julianna Johan-Boodram, permanent secretary, Ministry of Tourism, shared the ten commandments she lives by.
She said, "The first one is achievement. You must have the will to do it. The second one is fairness. We would all like to think that people live by the rules and it is a fair place, but it's not, so get used to it. Do not be disappointed if friends don't support you. Do not be disappointed if friends are getting the breaks and you are not."
"Next is solution. Be solution-oriented. The fourth one is money. Do not take a job just for the money. Take a job for the opportunities that it can bring and experience because if you take a job just for the money you will always be disappointed. Loyalty, the next one is determination; be determined to be a success. Positivity, Change, Attitude and the last one is Passion," Johan-Boodram said.
Encouraging her fellow graduates to reach for the stars, valedictorian Jillian Lee (a part-time student) said, "The enthusiasm with which we started our journey at TTHTI should never be curtailed for any reason. We should always take whatever experiences met along the way as those which contribute to developing our character and determination to further pursue our goals."
"Many times we were thrown out of our comfort zones, but this only served to add to our growth and development," she added.
This year, several students took the spotlight.
Kimberly Gomes copped the award for Best Overall Student in Hospitality and Management. Roshida Crawford got Best Project in Tourism Management, while Keren Atwell got Best Overall Student in Food and Beverage Management, to name a few.
Giving the graduates some food for thought, Aguiton said, "Never accept 'so so' as being good enough and let excellence always be your minimum standard—do not settle for less."