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Tabitha Lesh and Reece Jahn Awarded the Outstanding Student and Leader
Award for Spring Graduates of the School of Hospitality
Business at Michigan State University

East Lansing May 2009 -  Despite rain and grey skies, spirits were high and happy on Saturday, May 8, as spring graduates of The School and their families enjoyed a celebratory graduation luncheon at the University Club of MSU, hosted by The School and its student Hospitality Association.  
Word about the annual graduation celebration seems to have spread over the years, so that this spring a record number of graduates and their guests attended.  Over 325 filled the main dining room of the University Club, where “hospitality” truly was the theme.  And while a worldwide concern about a possible outbreak of “swine flu” prevented any form of human contact at the formal Michigan State University commencement ceremonies, The School’s celebrations came complete with handshakes and hugging!
After welcomes from Director of the Student and Industry Resource Center “SIRC” Authella Collins Hawks and Director and Professor Dr. Ron Cichy (BA ’72, MBA ’77), Alumnus Mike Rice (BA ’91) provided the graduation “keynote address.”  
Mike has been general manager of the Quality Suites Hotel in Lansing since 2002, where the property has been certified as a Green Lodging Steward by the State of Michigan’s Energy Office and was awarded the 2009 Platinum Award by Choice Hotels International.  Only the top 3% of over 5,000 hotels are recognized in this way for their excellence in facilities, service, and hospitality.  
Mike’s hotel is ranked number one out of all the Lansing-area hotels (and fifth in the entire state!) by, a consumer-driven website for hotel reviews. 

Tabitha Lesh and Reece Jahn
Mike and his staff members are deeply involved in the community, working with the United Way, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and Ele’s Place for grieving children.  He serves on the Board of the Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association.  Mike has also been a very active member of The School’s Alumni Association Board of Directors for 11 years, and was honored the association’s Emerging Alumnus Leader of the Year in 2004. 
Mike read from his undergraduate diary, recalling events from his own undergraduate years that are familiar even to the new graduates.  He spoke of favorite professors (yes, they are still teaching!), homecoming, and Les Gourmets.
Then he discussed his “Bridges of Hospitality County,” what he has learned over the years which might be helpful for them to think about as they enter their careers.  His bridges include:
  • Earning respect is directly proportional to how well you listen, your ability to coach, and how often you get your hands dirty.
  • When managing others, touch a heart before you ask for a hand.
  • You should never upset the controller, and never, ever upset the chef!
  • When starting a new job, don’t make a contribution to your employer; make a commitment.
  • Ask your manager or owner for a new project, even when your plate is full.
  • Make every decision as if you owned the business where you work.
  • It is not enough to satisfy your customers; you must delight them.
  • If you can’t excel with talent, then you must triumph with preparation and effort.
  • People who admit they’re wrong go further than people who try to prove they’re right.
  • There are differences between being a “boss” and being a “leader.”  A boss drives, but a leader coaches.  A boss relies on authority, but a leader will inspire authority.  A boss says, “I,” but a leader says, “we.”  A boss fixes blame, but a leader fixes problems.  A boss knows, but a leader shows.  A boss says, “go,” but a leader says, “let us go.”
Mike encouraged the brand-new alumni to stay in touch with their School, and get involved in the Alumni Association.
Outgoing President of the Hospitality Association Tabitha Lesh (BA ’09), herself a new graduate, gave the HA farewell.  She outlined what makes up a Spartan:
  • The brain . . . because Spartans realize that while grades are important, so are the life lessons learned outside the classroom.
  • The ears. . . because when a Spartan hears, “you can’t,” they simply hear, “I will.”
  • The eyes. . . because Spartans have to wear sunglasses even at night, “because our futures are so bright.”
  • The back . . . because while Spartans carry the weight of the world on their backs, they also know how to set work aside and make time for play.
  • The heart. . . the most important part of a Spartan, because they are true to the core and full of inspiration; selfless and kind to others.
Tabitha was later awarded the female Outstanding Student and Leader Award (OSLA), and outgoing Vice President of Alumni Relations for HA, Reece Jahn (BA ’09) was award the male OSLA.  Dr. Jeff Elsworth, associate professor of Hospitality Business Entrepreneurship, earned the Outstanding Faculty Member award.  All three awards were voted on by members of the Class of ’09.
Finally, all graduates had the chance to stand and give their names and hometowns, receive a small gift from the Hospitality Association, and take a photo with School Director Cichy.  
The graduation luncheon provided an intimate farewell in an elegant setting for each of The School’s newest Alumni.  
About The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University
Recognized as the top-ranked hospitality business school in the world, The School celebrates its 82nd year anniversary in 2009.   The School has more than 9,000 graduates worldwide, including a number of leading academicians and industry executives, who have earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Founded in 1927, the mission of The School is to continually enhance The School's leadership position in hospitality business education through teaching, research, and service.  The School offers an exceptionally well-crafted curriculum, taught by innovative professors who are leading textbook authors, sought-after consultants, and respected researchers.  The mission of The School of Hospitality Business Alumni Association is to provide active leadership in support of the mission of The School of Hospitality Business through membership participation, image enhancement, financial commitment, and promotion of synergies among students, faculty, alumni, and friends.  The First, The Original, and STILL The Leader. . . The School of Hospitality Business.  For more information, please visit
(517) 353-9211





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