By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE Lester Prairie’s Emma Leverich is studying hotel, restaurant, and tourism management, a major that’s filled with opportunities.
“[The University of Wisconsin-Stout] is a polytechnic school, so it’s a lot more hands-on,” Leverich said. “The theories we read about, we try to put into practice.”
Leverich, who will graduate from UW-Stout in December, joined the school’s Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) group her freshman year. For the past two years, she’s been serving on the executive board.
One of the organization’s long-time goals was to win Chapter of the Year. That dream came true at the World Club Managers Conference in San Francisco this spring.
“It’s the hardworking students, especially the executive board,” Professor Phil McGuirk, chapter advisor, noted in a press release. “They just don’t give up. I am very proud of them. They have put in many long hours.”
The award requires an application process, and chapters with more members and more activities rank higher.
Leverich said the CMAA club is a fun way to learn about career options and get involved on campus.
“All of the members are my great friends,” she noted. “We tour a lot of clubs. It allows us to see the opportunities out there for us. They are really educational.”
The past and future
Leverich, her parents (Brian and Angela), and her three sisters moved to Lester Prairie when Leverich was in eighth grade.
By the time Leverich graduated from homeschool in 2015, she already knew she was interested in event planning. Then, as she began taking college classes, her focus narrowed to the hotel, restaurant, and tourism industry.
“I’m definitely a people person,” she said. “I love meeting new people and creating those connections.”
Leverich described the coursework at UW-Stout as “research and project-based,” with very few tests. One of her classes, for instance, teaches students how to plan meal events.
“We actually have our own kitchen and little café in our hospitality building,” she said.
Leverich has been employed in the hospitality industry, too. Last summer, she was a food and beverage intern at a country club in New Hampshire, and during the school year she was a server at a brewery. Starting this summer, Leverich has a short-term position lined up at a yacht club in White Bear Lake.
As part of UW-Stout’s CMAA group, Leverich has toured several country clubs, golf courses, athletic clubs, and other hospitality sites. Trips take place each fall and spring.
“We actually just got back from Chicago,” Leverich said, adding that the fall tours were in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
Club members also attend a student conference in Washington, DC that features pre-management workshops. Another highlight is the World Club Managers Conference, which takes place in a different location each year.
In addition to winning Chapter of the Year for 2018, Leverich’s club also won the Club of the Future contest this year. For this competition, the team developed an idea for selling country club merchandise in which members could pay for a subscription to have apparel and other logo items mailed to them.
Leverich said her time at UW-Stout, as well as her work experience, have been good preparation for a career in the hospitality industry.
“Eventually I would love to be the general manager of my own yacht club,” she said. “I’m just working my way up there slowly.”