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Montgomery College Student Success Stories

Hospitality Management Program Serves Up State-of-the-Art Training
Montgomery College Today, Fall ’01

Nubia MedranoIf Wheaton High School sophomore Nubia Medrano hadn’t picked up a crumpled flyer about the Edison High School of Technology, she might have chosen a different career path. Something compelled Medrano to read the flyer, which announced an open house for the restaurant management program at Edison. She checked it out, and signed up for a two-year stint, taking academic courses at Wheaton and restaurant management courses at Edison. Her interest in the restaurant industry grew, and so did her desire to run her own Latin-American restaurant. So when it came time to take the next step, Lisa Fanning, head of Edison’s restaurant management program, suggested that Medrano enroll in Montgomery College’s hospitality management program. Fanning had first-hand knowledge of the program—she was a graduate herself.

“I'm the first in my family to go to college,” said Medrano. “Money was a big issue. Why should I spend three times more on another school?” Medrano, 21, graduated from MC this past May, and in January will enroll as a junior in the hotel and restaurant management program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) at Shady Grove. And, with a recent promotion to manager in training at Red Sage, an upscale restaurant in the District, Medrano’s future looks promising.

“It’s a great program,” said Medrano. “You learn what you need to know in the real world.”
She is especially appreciative of Professor Janet Saros, head of the MC hospitality management program. “She always made time for me—she’d drop what she was doing. She’s a great woman and a great teacher,” said Medrano. The program has been around for about 25 years, offering an associate’s degree in hospitality management, as well as two certificate programs in food and beverage management and meeting planning. Saros says that her students have been “bitten by the bug” through work experience or a family business. “They realize that while experience is important, education is a big advantage when you’re competing for jobs. Enrolling in this program shows employers you’re committed to the industry.”

A Boost from Marriott
Recently, the program received a giant boost, thanks to a $1-million grant from the Marriott Foundation, the largest gift ever given by the foundation to a community college, and one of the largest donations ever received by Montgomery College. The College used the donation
to establish the Marriott Hospitality Center at Montgomery College, of which Saros is director. The new center will meet the growing demand for a trained hospitality workforce by offering innovative, high-quality educational and internship opportunities to students in the greater Washington area. It will also enable MC to offer more scholarship opportunities. Along with the Marriott grant, the hospitality management program now boasts a brand-new instructional kitchen—a spacious, gleaming 2,400-square-foot facility that features state-of-the-art ovens, convection burners, a huge walk-in freezer, and a futuristic-looking hand washing station that records the number of times it is used for compliance purposes.
“Most restaurateurs would be jealous of what we have,” said Saros. “This is a seriously good kitchen.”