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Released February 25, 2003


Long Beach – Thirteen seniors from Gulfport High School recently had the chance to experience true Southern hospitality at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Southern MissGC's Culinary Arts Academy and hospitality management program hosted the students of Gulfport High School's Academy of Travel and Tourism (AOTT) on Feb. 12 in an informative and hospitable day of learning.

"The Gulfport High School students had a chance to see and experience first hand, our facilities, with culinary students in action," said Ernie Wilson, associate chair and assistant professor of hospitality management at Southern MissGC.

After Wilson spoke to them about the industry of travel and tourism and then about the educational opportunities available to them at Southern MissGC, culinary students of the academy prepared a buffet brunch for the high school students.

"I enjoyed the hospitality/culinary arts program overview at Southern Miss Gulf Coast," said 17-year old Chacara Evans, of Gulfport. "I think Mr. Wilson provided me with plenty of information that I know I can use."

Darrell Fortenberry II, 18, of Gulfport, plans to pursue a career in the business/marketing field or the culinary arts. He said, "They seem to teach that instead of being good at something that you love to do, you should try to be the best at it."

The AOTT is a part of the National Academy Foundation (NAF), a nationwide non-profit, school-to-work program with more than 15,000 students in 40 states. The Gulfport School District is the first in Mississippi to use the national Academy of Travel and Tourism model. The program is designed to give students a real "working world" glimpse of the kinds of careers available in the travel and tourism industry.

Every AOTT student works in a paid internship at a travel/tourism industry site during the summer between the junior and senior years. Also, through NAF, students are eligible for many scholarship opportunities for college. Nationwide, 90 percent of all academy graduates go on to colleges and universities.

Located at the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, the Southern MissGC Culinary Arts Academy offers a non-degree granting certificate program that features a broad based professional culinary arts curriculum.The purpose of the certificate program is to prepare students for work assignments across a broad spectrum of culinary areas in different segments of the travel, hospitality and food service industry.

The AOTT students also learned that the Southern Miss Department of Hospitality Management offers a bachelor of science degree in hospitality management that prepares students for careers in hotel restaurant and tourism management. The degree can be completed on both the Gulf Park and Hattiesburg campuses.

Gulfport High School students participating in the event were Linda Baldwin,17; Alice Carter,18; Latarya Ellis,18; Chacara Evans,17; Niomi Fautner,17; Darrell Fortenberry,18;Shekeia Gordon,17;Anthony Lynch,18;Christina McNair,18;Snehal Patel,16;Taneisha Reynolds,17; Danielle Thornton,16; and Latisha Walker,16.

For more information on the Southern MissGC culinary arts and hospitality management programs contact Wilson at (228) 214-3226.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM