What VHS 2010 Is Doing: Food & Hospitality

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Kevin Clarke

You can’t book a room in Kevin Clarke’s hotel today. It hasn’t been built yet. He hasn’t finished the courses he will need to learn how to manage it. Heck, he won’t even start them until next week. But sometime in the not too distant future, Clarke will be running a hotel and, chances are, it will be a hotel you will want to stay at.

In the next few days, Clarke will do what so many of his former classmates in the Verona High School Class of 2010 have already done and head off to higher education. But he is going to Johnson & Wales, a college focused on careers in the hospitality industry that might not have been considered by a VHS grad a decade or two ago. So are VHS classmates Jenna Barone and Brett D’Alessandro, as well as Robert Frungillo Jr., a Verona resident who graduated from Montclair Kimberley Academy. They aren’t the only Verona students who picked hospitality studies this year: Elliot Rose from VHS 2010 is going to the Louisiana Culinary Institute.

The reason is quite simple. The world travels a lot for business and pleasure, which means a lot of jobs in the hospitality industry. More than 1.8 million Americans already work in hotel-related jobs, and another 9.6 million in food service. Employment in the former is expected to increase by 5.4% by 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and food service will see a nearly 8% rise. That’s not as great a jump as nursing, a field that another new VHS grad has picked for college, but like nursing, hospitality colleges maintain close ties to employers that virtually guarantee graduates immediate employment. “When we get out, there will be jobs waiting,” says Clarke.

Johnson & Wales' Rhode Island campus
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Hospitality has been a focus for Johnson & Wales since 1973. Its College of Culinary Arts offers both associate and bachelor’s degrees, and counts Iron Chef contestant Chris Cosentino and FoodNetwork star Tyler Florence among its alumni. Its Hospitality College confers a bachelor’s degree and allows students to focus on not only hotel management but travel, restaurant and sports management as well. The school holds classes at its main campus in Rhode Island, as well as in North Miami, Denver and Charlotte. Clarke notes that, when he wants to study at one of the other campuses, he need only find a student willing to trade places with him in Providence. And Johnson & Wales makes it possible for students to graduate in three years instead of four, which could save Clarke and his cohort more than $24,000. “I’m going to work to finish in three,” he says.

When Clarke does graduate, he may have a very willing ear for his plans: the father and uncle of Robert Frungillo Jr., who will be his roommate freshman year, are the owners of Frungillo Caterers, which operates The Villa At Mountain Lakes, Skylands Manor, The Mezzanine and Oakside Manor.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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