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Spring 2010 Graduates of Michigan State's School of Hospitality Business
Hear Kellogg Hotel's General Manager Joel Heberlein Speak

Student Remarks Given by The School’s Outstanding Senior Alexandra Clark

East Lansing -May 18, 2010 - The Spring 2010 graduates of The School of Hospitality Business celebrated in style on Saturday, May 8, enjoying a special time with family and friends before entering the “real” world as alumni of Michigan State.

The School’s Hospitality Association and its Student and Industry Resource Center hosted a graduation reception at the University Club Saturday afternoon, with MSU’s Spartan Hospitality Group Director and Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center General Manager Joel Heberlein as speaker.  Over 250 people attended.

Joel’s comments were especially meaningful, because his own son, Mike, who introduced his dad, was among the graduates.  Joel is also an adjunct instructor in The School, and enjoys a close relationship with many of its students. 

The School of Hospitality Business' Graduation Reception Speaker Joel Heberlein and his son, Mike Heberlein

Joel encouraged the graduates, acknowledging the tough economic conditions in which they are beginning their careers, and noting that when he himself graduated, “I had no job and no direction. . . and I never dreamed I would lead a Hospitality Division at a Big Ten University.”  He assured them that doors will open for them, and that they will never be alone, because “You will always have us here at State.  We will always be here for whatever you need and we would love to hear from each and every one of you whether you need us or not.”

“And if your journey takes you far away from Michigan,” he continued, “and you think we are too far away to assist you, don’t forget the 400,000-plus MSU alumni around the world.  You most certainly are not alone.”  Joel urged the students to make a difference in the world, and to stay in touch with their Spartan family.

The reception included a tribute to the seniors, and two had been selected by their peers as “Outstanding Seniors” for 2010.  The honor went to Stephanie Stephens, the 2010 executive director of CAREER EXPO, and to Alexandra Clark, the 2010 executive director of Les Gourmets. 

The inspired students and their friends and families proceeded to The Eli Broad College of Business commencement ceremony, where baccalaureate degrees were awarded to its majors at the Breslin Center.  The commencement address was presented by Mr. Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte LLP, and student remarks were given by The School’s Outstanding Senior Alexandra Clark.

Liked and respected among her peers and her professors, Alex was an exceptional student leader. In addition to being The School’s 2010 Les Gourmets executive director and a volunteer for several other School events, she conducted research at MSU with the Partnership in Food Industry Development – Fruits and Vegetables (PFID-F&V).  Alex plans to attend graduate school at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand to continue her studies of value-chains in cocoa and chocolate, focusing on fair trade and entrepreneurship through a graduate program in Agri-commerce.

Alex also combined her passion for fair trade, chocolate, and entrepreneurship, becoming one of the final four competitors in the Lansing, MI “Next Bright Idea” competition with a plan to establish the Bright Idea Bonberie, a fair trade and local sourcing chocolate company.

Alex’s speech, filled with humorous stories of her sometimes wayward Spartan great-grandfather, grandfather, and father’s antics at MSU, was captivating, drawing not only some tears, but also, for the first time in recent memory, a standing ovation from all the graduates of the Broad College and their families.  “We made it,” she said, acknowledging the roles that families and professors had played in getting the graduates to this moment: 

“We made it because of our families.  We made it here one frozen, ziplock container of home-made minestrone soup at a time.  We made it on Valentine’s Day cards with seemingly endless lines of X’s and O’s signed, ‘Love, Mom and Dad.’  We made it on toilet paper rolls that went mssing from home when we returned to school and on checks with the words, ‘Tuition Payment.’  We made it because our sisters answered the phone after one of those evenings that ended at Rick’s All-American Café and because our Grandma had an old Schwinn in her garage when we couldn’t afford a new bike.”

“Faculty and staff, from N130 to Norway, from Lansing to Louisiana, from Eppley to Ethiopia, you have advanced our knowledge far beyond the confines of classroom and curriculum.  You gave that thoughtful lecture that introduced us to our passions and that entertaining one that made those less interesting topics tolerable.  Your advice made 21 credits in one semester possible, and your smile with that bright, ‘Good morning!’ brought joy in the midst of chaos. . . with your enthusiasm and dedication you have sincerely transformed our lives.”

But fellow graduates played a role, too, Alex explained, noting the times spent with roommates, at Izzone campouts, celebrating consecutive Final Fours, eating brats on crisp Fall Saturday mornings, and taking pictures with Sparty – all of which gave them a Spartan Spirit that “no one can ever take away.”

Inspired by Alex, the Hospitality Business students let out a deafening roar when presented for their degrees by Director and Professor Dr. Ron Cichy (also a School alumnus).

In an aside, it should be noted that the student speaker for The Broad College December graduation this year was also a graduate of The School of Hospitality Business, Matt Anderson.  Quite a year for The School and its 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 83rd year anniversary in 2010.  The School has almost 10,000 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


The School of Hospitality Business
Lena Loeffler
232 Eppley Center
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 353-9211

Also See: Richard Farrar, VP of Owner & Franchise Services for Marriott International, Captures the Attention of MSU Students in The School of Hospitality Business / February 2010

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