“For me, it was the University of Illinois first,” says food science and human nutrition graduate Mark Cherry. “I had always wanted to go to U of I. I wanted to be a Fighting Illini. And I also loved hotels. I remember when I was young, my parents taking me to downtown Chicago and visiting hotels, having breakfast at Palmer House, seeing the beautiful Palmer House lobby ceiling mural. Just the grandiose nature of these hotels . . .”
When Mark found out about the hotel management major in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I, he was hooked. He admits that after finding that out, he didn’t do much other research into other colleges.
“I applied to some other colleges, but it was U of I or bust!” He recalls, “It was going to be tough if I didn’t get in!”
U of I holds a special place in Mark’s heart. His education and his time at school gave him a great knowledge base about his field. Today, Mark works drawing in huge conventions to his hotel—Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino—in Las Vegas.
“It helped me when I got to Las Vegas that I already had a good knowledge base,” Mark says. “Having a college degree is definitely important. Probably the most important thing I gained was the experience of my summer internship. It was a requirement in my program, and without that internship, I wouldn’t have made connections that eventually helped me land here.”