Dater High School sophomore Julie Martinez Lopez can’t wait to begin working at a bakery next month.
“I’m so excited,” she said. Martinez Lopez says she loves baking and is looking forward to decorating cakes and cupcakes.
She is one of 14 Dater High School students to complete a 12-week culinary program, acquainting them with the many facets of the hospitality industry – from tourism, to catering to hotel management.
The students were the first to graduate from the Dan Lincoln Institute for Hospitality Leadership (IHL) as part of a community-wide effort to develop a more highly skilled and diverse workforce for the Cincinnati region’s hospitality industry.
The IHL, which was created by the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2016, launched its inaugural semester with select juniors and seniors at Dater High School. Students met with educators and local industry leaders to follow an IHL-designed course that introduced them to potential career paths within the industry.
Now, the next step for Martinez Lopez is to obtain on-the-job training. She will be working at Sweet Petit Desserts in Over-the-Rhine. Four of the 14 students will be participating in a 10-week internship at sites throughout Cincinnati; including Duke Energy Convention Center, Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel and Great American Ballpark.
“This is an amazing day for the City of Cincinnati,” said Julie Calvert, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Travel to the Cincinnati region is at an all-time high, and with that, there is a need for a more robust workforce in the hospitality industry. The Dan Lincoln Institute for Hospitality Leadership meets that need by addressing regional workforce trends and working to maximize the size and impact of the region’s economy.”
Hawa Ba, a senior, is glad she enrolled in the hospitality program. While she hopes to pursue a career in law someday, she also is eager to step into the hospitality industry. Ba said she learned so much about the city of Cincinnati.
“Thank you for this amazing opportunity,” Ba told the crowd of graduates, parents, and representatives of the tourism industry attending the graduation ceremony. Students were presented with a certificate, pin and black jacket with the IHL emblem.
“I’m very proud of these students,” said Principal Steve Sippel. “I want nothing but the best for them,” he added.
To learn more about the Culinary program at Dater High School, visit https://daterhighschool.cps-k12.org/.