HTM Student Spotlights

Corcharnelia Martin

Bobby Belzeski

Cassie Flener

Yizhu Liao

Mackenzie Holm

MackenzieHolmBistroAs a member of the 2018 Purdue HTM graduating class, Mackenzie found and developed her passion while at Purdue! Not the type to let grass grow under her feet, MacKenzie led an active life on campus and off, accumulating numerous awards and accolades along the way. Some highlights of her collegiate career include:
  • Deans List and Semester Honors
  • Windsor Resident Hall Ambassador
  • 2014-17 Michiana Assoc. of Family & Consumer Sciences Scholarship Recipient
  • 2015-16 Nancy Creech Neubert Scholarship Recipient
  • 2017 Janet Bray HTM Scholarship Recipient
  • 2018 IFMA Scholarship Recipient
  • 2018 Black Tie Dinner Culinary Director

Beyond campus, Mackenzie worked for Schahet Hotels, Purdue Athletics Marketing and Promotions, Ritz Charles, and Centerplate at NCAA Headquarters. However, it was her involvement in the HTM Learning Community that she valued most.  Mackenzie credits her experience as an HTM Learning Community member for her introduction to all sectors of the hospitality industry and for helping her find and hone her passion for the culinary arts, "Being a part of the HTM Learning Community was one of the best decisions I made, as a Purdue student. I met my closest friends and had multiple opportunities to travel and see different sectors of the hospitality industry. It better acquainted me with faculty and helped me network with other HTM students and professors. It was also what introduced me to Black Tie Dinner! I highly recommend getting involved with the HTM Learning Community and Black Tie Dinner, you'll be able to meet other students and receive opportunities to help you find your passion!"

Here, Mackenzie shares with us some of her best HTM memories and her post-graduation plans!

Memorable Moments:

While many, here are a few of my favorite memories!
1) During my freshman year, the HTM Learning Community took a trip to Chicago. We toured McCormick Place and Pappadeaux Seafood Restaurant; this trip was pivotal for me as it opened my eyes to all of the sectors of the hospitality industry.
2) Black Tie Dinner - I have always been on the culinary side and every minute was an adrenaline rush, but capping off my senior year as the Culinary Director was an honor and gave me some of my most cherished BTD memories!
3) As it's one of my favorite TV shows, winning the "Chopped" competition at the Red Dress Event was a particular thrill!
4) The opportunity to work the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 cannot be replicated. In addition, my work at Purdue Athletics and NCAA Headquarters were constantly learning and growing experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything!

Plans After Graduation: 

I will be putting my passion and degree to immediate use having accepted a position with Compass Group. I will be joining their Manager-in-Training Program for the Chartwells K12 Program, with a mission of extending passion, dedication, knowledge and enthusiasm into serving school children delicious and nutritious meals.

Katherine Meinzen


Originally, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Katherine has lived all over the country. While growing up, her family traveled extensively, inspiring her passion for road-trips and the hospitality industry. Originally planning to use her degree to become a Wedding & Special Events Planner, Katherine found herself changing her mind more than once as she became aware of all the opportunities an HTM degree offered! Through various internships and work experiences in hotels, restaurants and with special events, she learned there is never a dull moment in hospitality - reaffirming her choice of HTM

as the perfect fit for her on-the-go and effervescent personality.

Here, Katherine shares with us some of her best HTM memories and her post-graduation plans!

Memorable Moments:

1) Friends: Most of my best memories involve the friends I made in the HTM network of students, particularly my Learning Community. A favorite memory is our first "bonding moment" on the bus ride to a sales blitz a the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, when a group of us spontaneously started singing Disney songs! 

2) Opportunity: After falling in love with New York City on the 2016 HTM Society & AHLA trip, I accepted a summer internship at The Carlyle. During this exciting experience, normal tasks turned extraordinary... folding laundry = Mick Jagger's underwear; greeting guests = bidding good afternoon to Tom Hanks!

3) Fun in Leadership: I served on the PASE Board of Directors my sophomore year, and had the opportunity to star in their Senior Send-off promotional video. While a great time, I learned that I'm a terrible actress... no worries of me abandoning hospitality for the film industry!

I can't think of no other major at Purdue that encourages its students to travel and expand their world-view with experiences like Purdue HTM. From taking limos to Indianapolis to eat at Fogo de Chao after a successful sales class project, to flying to New York City for the Hotel Experience professional development trip, Purdue HTM provides the experiences of a lifetime for their students, just as the hospitality industry strives to do for its clientele.

Plans After Graduation:

I have accepted an invitation to serve as a volunteer in the Peace Corps upon my graduation in May, 2018. I will spend 27 months putting the service skills and knowledge that I have gained through HTM to use in a unique way. I will be in a position to promote community development, including business sustainability, educational services, and economic development in Moldova. I hope that through this position I can continue to learn what it means to serve others, as well as become a more understanding and insightful manager of employees who may come from different cultures, countries, and economic backgrounds. Although I do hope to return to the hospitality industry after my service in the Peace Corps, my eventual goal is to earn a graduate degree and work in travel management for a non-profit, focused on disaster relief efforts.

Yucheng Zhang

Yucheng Zhang with Sword

In addition to being an international student from China and quite good at Kenjutsu, Yucheng Zhang is our 2017-18 recipient of IFMA's (International Foodservice Manufacturer's Association) Gold & Silver Plate Scholarship. Having exhibited a strong commitment to the foodservice industry and impressive leadership skills, Yucheng exemplifies the qualities and work/life balance we look for in HTM students and scholarship recipients! Beyond his IFMA win, here are just a few of his academic and personal highlights:


         -  2018 Purdue HTM Outstanding Senior Nominee

         -  HHS Dean's List & Semester Honors

         -  Golden Key International Honour Society Member

         -  Extensive Hotel Work Experience & Internships in the U.S.,

            China, and South America

         -  Owner and Founder of Rai's Art & Design


Below, Yucheng shares one of his favorite experiences as an International Intern and his future plans. 

What was your most memorable experience as an International Intern?

My most memorable moment was my last night in Colombia, where I interned with Selina Medellin as a Manager Assistant. The Selina people gave me a traditional farewell party, hosted at Playground, the property's restaurant. We spent the evening reminiscing about all the good times we had, the challenges we faced, and how we successfully overcame them! As a special memento, my internship managers presented me with a signed Colombian flag - a great symbol of the lessons I learned over the summer and the friendships I had made! It was the perfect evening and fitting capstone to my summertime experience... that may have ended with just a few tears! 

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I will pursue a master’s degree in Marketing with a focus on Aging & Senior Care. I am considering going back to China to pursue my career. I foresee that the combination of HTM principles and disciplines with Senior Care will be the future of China's hospitality industry.


HTM Spotlight Student: Cassie Flener

Cassie Flener

"Get involved!" That is the advice to HTM students from Cassie Flener, HTM's Outstanding Senior for 2018 and first Spotlight Student. Cassie has certainly walked the talk. She has served as the president of the HTM Career Fair Board, president of the Earhart Residence Hall Club, an HHS student ambassador, and the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association just name a few of her activities!

While deeply involved in HTM, Cassie was also awarded the prestigious Statler Foundation Scholarship for Excellence in 2017-18. This scholarship is awarded to students preparing for a career in the hospitality and lodging industry. E.M. Statler, the "Father of the American Hotel," established his foundation to support training for "more proficient workers" to benefit the "hotel industry as a whole." Starting as a bellboy at age 13, E.M. built one of the first hotel chains with properties in Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, New York and Los Angeles, to name a few. A true innovator, E.M. was the first to build a hotel with a bathroom in every room.

Cassie was asked to share some information about herself, her time at Purdue and what the Statler Foundation Scholarship means to her.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to Pudue's HTM?

I am a Senior from Newburgh, Indiana. I come from a large family and am the oldest of five children. Financially, it made sense to go to a college in my hometown, but I felt that I needed to explore other schools and options. With my decision to attend Purdue, I took a leap of faith in a school 13 times the size and 4 hours from my hometown. When I started college I had no idea what career path I wanted to pursue, but I knew Purdue had a prestigious name that would open many doors for me. I was originally an Exploratory Studies student until my Sophomore year when I CODO'd into HTM, which was the best decision I have made since choosing Purdue.

What are some of your favorite Purdue memories? 

Purdue has provided me with many fantastic memories and treasured moments. One particular memory that I would like to share took place my freshman year. Walleyball was a pastime that I frequently played with the friends I had made in the residence hall, and it was such as an amazing way to build memories. There were a few games that ended in broken glasses and ball marks on various parts of the body, but these are moments my friends and I will forever treasure.

One of my favorite HTM moments was walking through thFlener 2e kitchen doors of the Union, with both hands laden with gorgeously plated food, and seeing a beautifully decorated ballroom filled with well-dressed people. Serving at the Black Tie Dinner was such a unique experience that I never knew was possible until I was in the HTM program. A final memory that I will share is my first internship at Purdue. For an entire summer, I worked on a cruise line, but this is not as glamorous as one might think. It was long days and hard work, but I made friends from all over the country. Even though I worked 709 hours in 8 weeks, I am thankful for this experience as it prepared me for the long days that I will have in the hospitality industry, post-graduation. As my time at Purdue is coming to a close, I am forever grateful for all of the friendships and memories I have made, and the amazing experiences and organizations in which I have been able to participate.

What tips would you give students to get the best results from their time in HTM?

Get involved. Get involved. Get involved. Be in at least one extracurricular activity, whether that is an HTM Club, in the Residence Halls, with HHS, or another organization on campus, just plug yourself in somewhere. These organizations will teach you about leadership, responsibility, time management, and will create countless networking opportunities for you. It also looks great on your resume, because companies see that you contributed to Purdue in some way, and have the key skills they are looking for in employees. The only reason I have been able to do so well in college is because I have involved myself in over 15 different organizations during my four years at Purdue.

What advice do you give to people looking for scholarships?

Check the HTM Announcements that are sent every Tuesday. There are many scholarships that HTM, HHS, and Purdue have to offer. If you cannot find scholarships, ask your advisor or professors, they will more than likely know of the current scholarship opportunities available.

What does the Statler Foundation Scholarship of Excellence mean to you?

The Statler Foundation Scholarship of Excellence means that all of the hard work that I have been putting into my college career is paying off. I am being recognized as one of the top 12 students in the country for my dedication to hospitality, which is truly an honor!

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