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TIAO Member of the Month: George Brown College

We’re featuring a special TIAO Member each month to share with the #TourismFamily what they do, and how they connect with TIAO. Learn something new about your tourism industry colleagues, and the value of a TIAO Membership!

August Member of the Month: George Brown College

This month we talked to Donna Lee Rosen, Professor, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, George Brown College, and TIAO Student Chapter Ambassadors Kris Campbell, Eric Snow and Virginia Varga via email.

Please note that this interview has been edited for clarity.

Who are you and what do you do? Tell us about your organization and its role within Ontario’s tourism industry.

Donna: "The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at George Brown College (GBC) hosts one of Canada’s top tourism programs, developing tourism professionals that will aid in minimizing the projected deficit in tourism HR.

"In addition to academic expertise, students at GBC are fortunate to have the management team’s support for the development of the inaugural TIAO Student Chapter. This gives our students additional opportunities to learn and understand the reality of the current tourism landscape.

"Participation in workshops and other TIAO initiatives also allows students to have a voice in the industry they are being educated to become a part of. The incredible real-life connection between the theory all programs offer and the application the TIAO Student Chapter members have the option of being immersed in is priceless."

The TIAO Student Chapter at George Brown College represents the school’s hospitality and tourism students within both the institution and the association. The chapter actively promotes TIAO, and creates events catering to fellow students’ interests in their industry. An example of is a panel discussion organized last winter, which featured several tourism professionals discuss their individual fields and careers, in addition to their achievements and challenges faced along the way.


How long have you been a TIAO Member and why did you join?

Donna: "George Brown College became a TIAO Member in 2017.  The association approached the college to discuss developing student chapters for TIAO at universities and colleges across Ontario, which I felt was amazing opportunity for our students."

Eric: "My membership with TIAO began in June 2017, when we launched the GBC Student Chapter.  I was excited to be part of this partnership from the beginning, and was equally thrilled to be getting actively involved in Ontario’s tourism industry."

Kris: "I joined TIAO as an official ambassador in January 2018. I joined after Eric came to one of my classes to discuss TIAO and how important the association is to our industry for promotion and advocacy."

Virginia: "I joined the TIAO student chapter in January 2018, and what an experience it has been! TIAO has given me the opportunity to visualize myself as part of the tourism industry, and also view the industry from a unique perspective—exactly what I was looking for."


How has being a member of TIAO provided value for your organization?

Donna: "The TIAO team has been stellar in its support of all the student initiatives that have come up in the name of the chapter. They’re very generous with their time and expertise, sharing with students in presentations, attending meetings and chapter-related events. Students have also been invited to workshops that would not have been available to them otherwise.

"Through George Brown’s relationship with TIAO, students can experience first-hand how theories learned in class are relevant in real life situations. They get real-time exposure to tourism industry businesses, processes and issues, and can offer input for current challenges where their opinions are heard and valued! This brings an extraordinary level of experience to their learning process, developing a level of confidence, leadership expertise and personal growth that cannot be duplicated in any classroom or one-off field trip.

"TIAO student membership benefits are also ongoing—students can get as much as they want out of it once they commit to participating."

Eric, Kris & Virginia: "Our TIAO partnership has created a pathway for students to engage directly with organizations in the industry. TIAO partners have direct access to new talent entering the industry, and our Student Chapter members have a chance to see the inner workings of a variety of companies in a range of fields."

"TIAO has had a tremendous impact for our organization by allowing students to get a perspective on how the tourism industry works. The Student Chapter at George Brown provides a space for students to apply their own knowledge, and bridge the gap between theory and real-life industry activity.

"As students we’ve been exposed to more events and industry professionals then we ever thought we’d encounter while being school, and these opportunities have definitely enriched our learning experience at George Brown."


What’s your favourite thing about TIAO and why?

Donna: "The level of involvement that’s offered to students, as well as the expertise shared. Students’ connection and communication with the provincial organization that speaks for the industry they are working hard to be part of makes students feel accepted and valued.

"Support from the TIAO team and the benefits provided to GBC tourism students are immeasurable. There’s so much that can be developed through the creation of the Student Chapter, the learning doesn’t stop!"

Eric, Kris & Virginia: "We like the fact that a provincial organization is taking interest in the students who will be the future of tourism in Ontario. It’s a terrific chance for us to learn from our industry partners, and to have our fresh new ideas heard."

Kris: "I also personally enjoy how passionate TIAO is about building up the next generation of leaders within the tourism industry through their support of our student-run initiatives at school. After attending the “Tourism Mega Event” in Ottawa this past May, I got to witness first-hand how their advocacy impacts our industry, and it inspired me as to what type of leader I want to be."


What are you working on right now?

Donna: "I am currently working with TIAO to build a method of accreditation that can be awarded to student chapter ambassadors, in addition to students that embrace their TIAO memberships by being involved. Working with students to keep the TIAO Student Chapter and membership process sustainable has also been a focus for the chapter, among other special projects." 

Eric, Kris & Virginia: "The GBC Student Chapter is looking ahead to the new semester, and planning activities to get our new students involved in TIAO. We also have a few social activities in the works to engage our TIAO partners, and encourage students to connect with others in the tourism industry.

"We plan to have another industry panel discussion, where we have individuals from different sectors of the industry come in to share personal experiences, and answer questions students have about working in tourism and hospitality. This gives students a chance to further explore their future options and deepen their understanding of career possibilities, as well as create a positive networking environment."

Many thanks to Donna, Eric, Kris and Virginia for answering our questions! We wish them all the best of luck in the upcoming school year and their future endeavours.