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FIU's hospitality students connect academics with career paths through scholarships and internships

by Monica Smith

Dec 21, 2022, 11:30 AM.

The Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management provides students with scholarship options and leverages its deep connections to prepare graduates for the future of organizations, worldwide.

The perfect dinner. The most memorable concert. The getaway to end all getaways. As the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management instructors teach students the business side of creating extraordinary experiences, the school remains student focused with an array of scholarship options and internships 

“Building meaningful relationships with organizations in the industry has been an integral part of the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management's successful existence,” says Dean Michael Cheng. “We do this to ensure our students have the best opportunities and a return on the investment in their education.”  

Joseph Cilli, assistant dean for the Chaplin School, says the school understands student and industry needs well, so it has designed a range of funding and crucial experiential instruction opportunities that will make an impact on students’ professional trajectory.

Valuable internships

Matthew Varela
Matthew Varela

Matthew Varela, one hospitality management major who has already felt the impact says the Chaplin School can be summed up in one word: opportunity. Varela, who completed an internship with Disney is currently completing an internship with the brand-new Loews Hotel in Coral Gables.

“I feel like I’ll be able to connect and work with anyone,” says Varela.


Alexa Rodriguez
Alexa Rodriguez

The deep industry connections FIU has, the school’s rankings and events, and hands-on experiences including The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One (SOBEWFF®), as well as the range of partnerships the school maintains give students a fast-track to industry careers.

These efforts have provided students like Alexa Rodriguez, priceless experience. Rodriguez, who is the president of FIU’s Wine Guild and recently completed her bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and an internship with Bacardi. 

Rose Chusid
Rose Chusid

The volunteer opportunities, projects and partnerships I have been involved in through the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management have helped me develop my leadership and communication skills further,” says Rodriguez, and Rose Chusid, who is currently completing an internship with Bacardi, agrees.

In five years, I hope to be working for Bacardi where I can continue to gain knowledge about the world of spirits through a marketing or brand advocacy perspective,” says Chusid, a B.S. in Hospitality Management student.

Worldwide partners

Scholarships are important to help reduce barriers for students. Understanding this, the Chaplin School is answering the call through its global partners to cultivate a worldwide referral network for not only internships, but funding as well. 

“Our partners come from all over the world and have been valuable in efforts to expand funding opportunities to students. They help us serve the local community, provide employment experiences, and deliver the resources needed to advance the quality of education and service provided to students and alumni,” says Cilli, who highlighted the Carnival Gold Scholars award. 

The Carnival Foundation funds the Carnival Gold Scholars awards. The Chaplin School awards five full-ride scholarships every year to exemplary first-year students seeking an undergraduate hospitality management degree at FIU. The scholarship award is equivalent to $80,000 or up to $20,000 per year for each student. Students are selected based on achievement and financial need. 

Golden Scholars

Lillian Garconnette
Lillian Garconnette

Lillian Garconnette, a hospitality management major with a restaurants/culinary specialization was recently named a Carnival Gold Scholar and her full tuition is covered. 

“The opportunities and experience that the scholarship has allowed me to have will not only have an impact on my cultural awareness but also open doors that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I will be graduating college debt free,” says Garconnette.

Genesis Torrez
Genesis Torrez

For Genesis Torrez, also a Carnival Gold Scholar, the funds have helped her beyond her imagination. 

“My whole life I had dreamt of this opportunity and having it as a reality has been so gratifying,” says Torrez, who is majoring in hospitality management with a focus in travel and tourism management. “I am forever grateful to be able to not have to hesitate on opportunities or experiences that the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management offers me due to financial worries.”

Carnival Gold Scholar Camila Ospina, who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in entertainment management, says that apart from the financial relief, her scholarship helped solidify her educational direction and she is planning to pursue her master’s degree with FIU in mega event management.

Camila Ospina
Camila Ospina

My experience has encouraged me to help others the way I was helped through my scholarship after graduation,” affirms Ospina. 

While the cost of a college degree from FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management is among the most affordable in the country, says Cilli, it is important to help remove barriers for exemplary students who will lead the future of the hospitality and tourism industry— therefore the Chaplin School provides scholarships as well as internship opportunities. 

For a list of all FIU scholarships, visit the university’s Scholarship Search list. For more information about internships, see the Chaplin School Internship Requirements webpage.

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