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HBCU Students Reflect on the Inaugural Sands Hospitality Immersion Program

HBCU Students Reflect on the Inaugural Sands Hospitality Immersion Program

Published 12-20-23

Submitted by Las Vegas Sands

Published by Las Vegas Sands on November 17, 2023

For Erin Williams, a junior at Howard University, the inaugural Sands Hospitality Immersion Program changed her career goals.

“This Immersion Program has really helped me shape what I can do in the hospitality industry as a marketing student,” Williams said. “I’ve learned you can become a marketing manager, or a nightlife marketing manager, or go into brand marketing – [there are] a lot of options. Knowing that you can do all these things in an industry that is very outgoing is definitely something of interest to me and helps me know where I can take my career after graduation.”

Established with the dual purpose of encouraging diverse students to consider careers in travel, tourism and entertainment while aiming to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workforce in the industry, the inaugural Sands Hospitality Immersion Program welcomed 12 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) this summer in Las Vegas.

Sands created the program with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the only national organization exclusively representing the Black college community, to expose students to the inner workings of the Las Vegas hospitality industry.

With curriculum curated by the Sands Center for Professional Development at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, the program featured in-depth seminars, tours of integrated resorts, visits to other hospitality venues, presentations by experts in various disciplines and interactive events such as a cooking competition with professional chefs.

In addition to providing students with a “back-stage” view of the hospitality industry, the immersion program also offered a vivid illustration of working in the industry via an interactive event, the Team Chopped Culinary Competition.

“The chopped event helped expand my knowledge of the hospitality field by putting my feet to the fire,” Marquis Bell, a current senior at Virginia State University, said. “It was a new experience, because not only do you have to make something that tastes good, but also looks nice on the plate, and you really have to know your audience as well. Because the hospitality industry is fast-paced, we learned through the chopped event you have to think and move on your feet.”

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TMCF students exploring the culinary aspects of the hospitality industry

One of the program’s curriculum leaders was Stowe Shoemaker, Ph.D., former dean of the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at UNLV. A key insight he imparted on the students is the range of paths in the hospitality industry.

“One of the amazing things about the hospitality industry is that career opportunities are unlimited,” Shoemaker said. “It’s an industry that continues to grow as people love to travel, and there are incredible opportunities whether you like finance, accounting, sales, supply chain or entertainment. It’s a career that’s never-ending, and you can continue to grow, see the world and have an amazing life.”

Throughout the week, students were able to explore the variety of career paths in the hospitality industry with tracks focused on a general industry overview; gaming including hands-on activities at the UNLV Konami Gaming Laboratory; events and entertainment; food and beverage operations; hotel operations; and professional services opportunities.

“We really hope students gained a better understanding of this industry, which is very broad-based,” said Ron Reese, senior vice president of global communications and corporate affairs, who spearheads corporate responsibility initiatives at Sands. “The great thing about the hospitality industry is that it can offer a variety of career paths. It’s important for students to think about this industry as a place to start their careers to gain invaluable experience, as well as a field in which they can plan a lifelong career path where they can excel and have upward mobility.”

The Sands Hospitality Immersion Program is part of Sands’ commitment to investing $200 million in workforce development globally by 2025 and a key initiative of Sands’ priority on education through the Sands Cares global community engagement program.

Other hospitality education initiatives include contributions to and partnerships with higher education institutions, funding for scholarship programs, on-property and industry-supported training opportunities for students and hospitality professionals, and mentorship and instruction from company leaders and experts.

To learn more about Sands’ education and workforce development initiatives, read the company’s latest environmental, social and governance report:

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TMCF Students with Ron Reese, Sands SVP Global Communications and Corporate Affairs


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Las Vegas Sands

Las Vegas Sands

About Sands (NYSE: LVS)

Sands is the world’s preeminent developer and operator of world-class integrated resorts.

Our iconic properties drive valuable leisure and business tourism and deliver significant economic benefits, sustained job creation, financial opportunities for local businesses and community investment to help make our host regions ideal places to live, work and visit. 

Sands’ portfolio of properties includes Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and The Venetian MacaoThe Plaza and Four Seasons Hotel MacaoThe Londoner MacaoThe Parisian Macao and Sands Macao in Macao SAR, China, through majority ownership in Sands China Ltd. 

Sands is dedicated to being a leader in corporate responsibility, anchored by our core tenets of serving people, planet and communities. Our ESG leadership has led to inclusion on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for World and North America. To learn more, visit

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