USVI Hotel & Tourism Association President Lisa Hamilton and St. Croix Hotel & Tourism Association member Ted Bedwell, manager at Sand Castle on the Beach, represented the two tourism associations as keynote speakers at recent Diageo graduation ceremonies on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
“For nearly 20 years, UVI CELL has served the community’s workforce development needs. Despite a pandemic, and with the generous support of our sponsors - Diageo USVI, Bellows International, VI Department of Labor, Da Chill Station and The Cast Iron Pot - we were able to provide students with a fully funded vocational training program. Our graduates are now prepared to enter the workforce and earn a living wage,” said Suzanne Darrow-Magras, director of the Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning at the University of the Virgin Islands.
Hamilton, who spoke at the St. Thomas ceremony, told students of her humble beginnings in customer service and how perseverance and passion for the industry led her to become a voice for local and regional tourism.
“Everyone’s introduction into the industry is unique, and not everyone takes the same course. What unifies us is our passion for tourism and an exceptional guest experience. It was an honor to speak to our industry’s future leaders, and I look forward to following their success stories,” said Hamilton after the ceremony.
In addition to their informative and inspiring keynote addresses, both Bedwell and Hamilton offered the students the opportunity to practice interviewing so they can continue their education as they dive into the industry.