Meet Professor Jodi Roze in this Q＆A
Meet Jodi Roze, professor for the Howard Community College (HCC) Center for Hospitality and Culinary Studies. Jodi came to HCC in 2010 after more than 20 years in the hospitality industry. Below, she shares how checking students into dorm rooms impacted her career path, what motivates her and advice for entering the hospitality field post pandemic.
Q: How did you get your start in the hospitality industry?
A: After graduating from high school, I went to Prince George’s Community College and the University of Maryland College Park, where I received my bachelor’s degree in sociology. I thought I was going to be a therapist. But during the summers, the university hosted a lot of athletic camps. I worked for the school, checking people in and out of the dorm rooms. It was just like a hotel. I had so much fun with it.
As I got closer to graduation, I started flipping through a graduate school catalog and saw University of Maryland University College (now University of Maryland Global Campus) offered a master’s degree in hotel and restaurant management. I enrolled, and it was such a wonderful experience. It took me six and a half years to finish because I was going at night and working full time during the day in the college’s personnel office and as a hotel front desk agent and sales manager.
Q: What prompted you to enter the education side of hospitality?
A: I was general manager of one of the PM Hotel Group properties of GM. I was also sitting on the board for Anne Arundel Community College’s hospitality program. In the fall of 2006, I got a phone call from the program’s assistant director. She said, “We don't have anyone to teach the sales and marketing night class that starts on Monday. Would you consider taking this class?”
I remember saying, “I’ve never taught before.” And she said, “You teach every day and don’t even know that you’re doing it. You can teach this class.” I started, and I fell in love that semester. I could give students tons of stories, and I could relate everything to an experience.
In 2008, I decided to make a break from the hotel industry. I’d been with PM Hotel Group for 11 years, and we had a great relationship. But I needed more time with my children, so I started teaching more at the college. A year later, I saw an ad for a full-time faculty position at HCC, and the rest is history. I’m now in my tenth year here.
Q: What are some of the courses you’ve taught over the years at HCC?
A: I’ve taught Intro to the Hospitality Industry, which I still do, and Hotel and Lodging Operations. I taught Housekeeping Management in Hotels, still do. I also taught Intro to Travel and Tourism, Intro to Meetings and Conventions, Event Management. I’ve taught pretty much everything except for anything related to food and beverage. The difference is there were no online courses when I started. Now, almost every class has an online offering.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Seeing students’ dreams come true. We have high school students all the way up to age 64. I work really hard with them so they network and make the best choices they can make to get the job. I tell them, “At the end, I’m here to make sure you have a job, and it's a job in what you want to do.” One of my past students is the director of dining room services for a senior living center. I also have graduates who are an assistant general manager of a hotel, a director of sales, a catering manager and an event coordinator at Disney resorts and an owner of a conference management company.
Q: What would people be surprised to know about the program?
A: Hospitality isn’t just hotels and restaurants. In Intro to Hospitality, we spend 15 weeks going over the different segments, including travel and tourism; lodging; recreation; assembly and event management; and restaurant and managed services. Students start to realize, “Whoa, there’s way more here than I thought that there was.” I have students who’ve said, “You know what? I’m going to transfer to get my bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation. I want to work for the government and be in national parks because I love the outdoors.” They didn't even know that was part of hospitality.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?
A: Our pineapple pinning. It’s our graduation ceremony just for culinary and hospitality students. We started it five years ago. Students come across the stage and get a beautiful medallion. Then, the next person pins them with a pineapple pin. It is so exciting and rewarding to the students accomplish their goal. Pineapples are the symbol for hospitality.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I have five grandkids all under the age of six, so I enjoy spending time with them. And my husband, who is a chef, and I just opened up our own business a year ago. He makes pre-made meals and we deliver them in and around Baltimore.
Q: How would you like the program to grow in the future?
A: Through study abroad and international college articulations. Our program was poised for an amazing experience in international education, but we had to cancel our first trip because of COVID. The good news is the program is already built, and we established a relationship with a four-year college in Ireland. I see this added opportunity as an amazing experience and journey for our hospitality students.
Q: What advice would you give someone entering the hospitality field today?
A: This industry is about relationships – it is HUGE, yet very SMALL. The best advice for entering the field of hospitality are really centered around these four things: networking (that is what makes this huge industry small!) flexibility, patience, and hospitality-specific education and certifications. The hospitality industry is incredibly resilient. It always falls in the top three for employment opportunities. Basically, do not fear in this time of COVID. Follow your original dream and goals.
Wherever you want to go, you can get there from here.