Senior awarded Star of Industry, begins work as banquet manager in Kentucky next month

The drive from Central Michigan University to the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Traverse City every weekend is coming to an end for Dewitt senior Taylor McManus.

McManus, a hospitality major and professional sales minor, is graduating in May. She has been driving to the resort and giving up her weekends for the past two years after she was chosen for an internship.

Krystal Fluette, a CMU alumna, hired McManus as an intern and has watched her advance during her two years with the resort. Following her graduation in May, she will start her career with White Lodging at the Marriott Louisville-Downtown in Kentucky.

“Taylor is one of those people you don’t want to let go,” Fluette said. “But you've got to let her spread her wings, so to speak. I will miss her greatly.”

As an intern, McManus started as a front desk agent. When summer ended, she was asked if she could continue working during the school year.

“I worked throughout the year on the weekends,” McManus said. “The following summer, I was promoted to housekeeping supervisor, and I started working again only on the weekends when school started. They let me stay on and grow with them. They knew how much I wanted to learn every aspect of my major.”

McManus has class Monday through Thursday, and when she is finished attending class for the week, she drives to the resort. It is this dedication that got McManus the top honor in her field as a student.

She was nominated by her employer and then won the Star of the Industry Student of the Year Award from The Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association.

McManus was presented with the award on March 26 at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids.

Fluette said this has been a great experience watching McManus learn and flourish in a career she is passionate about.

“After I hired Taylor here, from the beginning to winning this award ... she has been impressive,” Fluette said. “It has been a really great experience to watch somebody grow and succeed like she did in the short two years she has been here. I will personally miss her a lot.”

Before starting at CMU, McManus had plans to be an accountant, before finding her true passion in hospitality industry.

“My mom was an accountant and I was good with numbers,” she said. “I hated science, so I knew I wasn’t going to be an engineer, doctor or something like that. I could do numbers, I can do accounting, so, why not? But it was one of those things I could do, but I wouldn’t like it after awhile ... I wouldn’t enjoy doing accounting my entire life.”

Marketing and Hospitality Services Administration Professor Gary Gagnon, who is McManus’ adviser, tried to talk her out of it when she first came to him about the program. He said he does this with every student who approaches him about a possible career in hospitality.

“It is my goal to make sure the students know what they are getting into,” Gagnon said. “This industry isn’t for everyone; we work long hours, and we work when other people play, and you really have to like people to go into this business.”

McManus took everything Gagnon could dish out and did everything she should do to succeed in the program, he said.

“Every time we had a guest speak, Taylor would follow up with them and ask them questions,” Gagnon said. “She impressed everyone she came into contact with and she did the right things.”

Gagnon said it was this passion to succeed that brought her the top honor of the biggest event in the Michigan Lodging and Tourism field, with every major hotel in the state represented.

“This is the first time in my 11-year career at CMU that a student has been honored,” he said.

Last November, McManus interviewed with White Lodging, a management company for different hotels, and the company offered her the job in Louisville. McManus will start her new job on May 21 as banquet manager.

“It was my goal to graduate CMU with a job,” she said. “I didn’t want to graduate and then go through the job-finding process. I am glad that is taken care (of) and that part of my life is figured out.”


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