Aug. 4, 2003 – The St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association's summer internship program concluded on Friday with an awards luncheon held at the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel on St. Thomas to recognize the 38 students who successfully completed their six-week placements.
"This is a great start," Labor Commissioner Cecil Benjamin said. "We are exposing our young people to the world of valid work, teaching them not to limit themselves to public-sector employment."
The "graduating" students worked mainly within the hospitality industry, with internships provided by such businesses as Bolongo Bay Beach Club, Coral World, Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, Renaissance Grand Beach Resort, The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort.
"Our islands have their own natural attributes that draw people here," Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards said. "However, it is the quality of services rendered that determine whether these individuals come back."
Richards joined David Yamada, association president and Renaissance Grand Beach general manager, in presenting certificates to the interns.
"Each student that applied for the program had their application reviewed by the HTA Placement Committee," Yamada explained. "Some of them were additionally sponsored by Senators — including Sens. Berry, David, Hill and Malone — as well as by WICO."
WICO — The West Indian Co. — in fact sponsored 14 students. Edward E. Thomas Sr., chief executive officer, said at the ceremony: "We understand fully why we need a program like this for our youth. That's why I'm going to continue to hire young people … because they are the future."
At least some of the summer interns will have further opportunities to continue their hospitality training in professional settings when they return to their college studies on the U.S. mainland.
"We'll be expected to work in the hotel industry when we go back up," student Jeffrey Guiste said. "We have offers for internships in the national organizations."
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