10th-graders get close-up look at Las Vegas tourism

Thirty 10th-grade students from Las Vegas’ Core Academy will get a five-week up-close look at the tourism and hospitality industry beginning next week under a new program co-sponsored by the academy and UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.

The first-ever Young Executive Scholars (YES) Hospitality and Tourism Program kicks off Monday at UNLV and will include presentations from key industry professionals, back-of-the-house tours of city tourism facilities and a resort design competition to win a $10,000 scholarship.

The 30 students — at the academy, they’re referred to as “Core Academy Scholars” — were selected for the program based on the strength of their essay submissions required for program admittance.

Shekinah Hoffman, the International Gaming Institute’s special project coordinator, said the idea for the YES program is modeled after University of Nevada, Reno’s Executive Development Program for industry professionals at Lake Tahoe.

“Most of the students selected for this program have grown up in this town and they’ve seen some of the lower-level positions that a family member or friend may have had in the industry,” Hoffman said. “But we want to show them that there are so many more career fields in the industry. You can be an architect, a lawyer or an executive.”

Guest speakers

Students will have guest speakers through the program. Among those planning to appear are long-time Las Vegas architect Paul Steelman, state Gaming Control Board member Terry Johnson and Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president of public policy and corporate responsibility for Caesars Entertainment.

The students also will have back-of-the-house tours of a Strip resort and a convention center.

One of the highlights of the program will be a competition for student teams to imagine and design their own world-class integrated resort. Students will be asked to apply key lessons from the course to respond to the mock request for the Las Vegas resort and to explore the diverse career sectors in the industry including finance, marketing, communication, public relations, law, architecture, STEM fields, management, human resources, community relations, government relations and leadership.

Hoffman, Blackhurst, Bo Bernhard, UNLV’s International Gaming Institute executive director, and Lindsay Harper, Core Academy executive director, will moderate the competition.

$10,000 scholarship

Upon completion, teams will receive detailed feedback on their projects from a panel of industry and academic experts and win prizes. A $10,000 scholarship will be awarded to one outstanding scholar participant.

Hoffman said organizers are hopeful the Yes program will become an annual event.

Core Academy says it has an in- and out-of-school model that focuses on the development and empowerment of Southern Nevada’s under-resourced youth. It is financed in part by The Rogers Foundation.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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