The Cornell Experience

Arriving home on Wednesday after an intense few days at Cornell, I hit the ground running.   My flights had gone smoothly, and we even arrived in Halifax a few minutes early (11:30 p.m.) – only to be slightly delayed when the Jetway wouldn’t move to meet the door of the airplane, so we had to wait for the specialists to arrive and fix it.  I sailed through customs in this direction and was so happy to see D’Arcy waiting for me!  We chatted on the 45 minute drive home; he had spent the evening at Graduation and I was excited to tell him all my stories.  I opened my suitcase at home to discover that it had been searched, probably because I had packed my wine, Grappa and Squash Seed Oil from Six Mile Creek Winery in my checked baggage.  Although I was still wound up from the trip, I knew I had to be up early to make breakfast!

Thursday was the last day of school and we couldn’t be more proud of our children – their report cards were outstanding!  D’Arcy said goodbye to Hants East Rural High; he will be switching schools and teaching Grade 7 & 8 Math and Science next year at Central Colchester Junior High, just a five-minute commute from our home, rather than 30 minutes each way.  He will be happy to gain an extra four hours in his weeks next year!

I’ve had a few days now to reflect on my experience at Cornell University’s Professional Development Program.  Was it everything I had hoped for when I applied?

Absolutely – and so much more!

The following is an excerpt from my application:

In 1991, when I began my degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management at Mount Saint Vincent University in Bedford, Nova Scotia, I would spend many hours in the library, pouring through the Hospitality Journals from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.  I found the articles interesting and informative and of all the hospitality journals I read during my early years of studying, the Cornell Journals are the ones I remember! 

It has been twenty years since I began my Tourism degree at the Mount.  I have spent my working career in the Tourism Industry, starting as a waitress (in those days), and progressing to bartender, server, supervisor, dining room manager, Bed & Breakfast owner & operator, and core faculty member for the Tourism Management Diploma program at the Nova Scotia Community College in Truro.  I have had a position on the executive of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association since 2005, and a position on the Board of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia since 2008.

In 2007, I won an outstanding volunteer award from the Nova Scotia Heart & Stroke Association, presented by Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis, at Province House.  That same year, I was named Outstanding Young Person by the Colchester Chapter of the Junior Chamber International.   In 2008, Belgravia Bed & Breakfast was named Accommodation of the Year by the Central Nova Tourist Association, and in 2010 The Belgravia was named Best B&B in Colchester County by the Truro & District Chamber of Commerce.

The Strategic Hospitality Management course, as part of the Cornell University Professional Development Program is of interest to me for many reasons.  I am a believer in life-long learning and leading through example. After eight years as owner/operator of the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast in Truro, I welcome the opportunity to be challenged and presented with fresh opportunities.  Often we get stuck in our same patterns after a long period of time and I relish the prospect of being challenged. 

I would look forward to developing a “mastery of the analytical tools to perform analyses of the industry and competitors” as well as “strategies for building competitive advantage and generating superior value for customers.”  These skills would be passed on with my colleagues in the tourism industry through my work with NSBBA & TIANS.  Also, the new ideas and information I would learn would translate into positive benefits to my guests.  In my experience, attending a course like this always seems to re-energize a participant in the industry.

As core faculty in the Tourism Management program at NSCC, I would also take these skills back into my own classroom as I guide learners who are about to enter into the industry.   These students are the future of the industry and the knowledge I would gain through this course would be multiplied as I pass it along in the classroom.

The experience at Cornell was intense.  I would meet my group before class, attend class all day and then meet my group again in the evening.  (There was a beautiful welcoming reception after the first night of class where we all got to get to know each other in a more relaxed setting – so it wasn’t all work…)

As I mentioned in my last post, my classmates were from all around the world  and the networking I did was invaluable.  I’ve already lined up a couple of my classmates to Skype into my class when we are completing our Strategic Hospitality Management course, and my professor, Dr. Jeffery Shay, copied course notes onto a USB stick for me to use!  It was challenging and exciting for me to be in the classroom atmosphere, learning and collaborating with other leaders in the Tourism Industry around the world.

In class...

In class...

Break-out groups, discussing our "Atlantis" case...

Receiving my certificate!

My class photo!

These are exciting times of growth & change both in the Tourism Industry and in our family.  Since I’ve been home, I’ve been looking at our B&B through fresh eyes.  I look forward to using my new knowledge to better our B&B, to guide my students, and to support the growth of the Nova Scotian Tourism Industry in whatever ways I can!  That being said, I hope I have the opportunity to take another course next summer!!

Best B&B in the Best of Colchester

We’ve been nominated in the “Best B&B” category of the Truro & District Chamber of Commerce’s “Best of Colchester County” contest.

This people’s choice awards event recognizes the outstanding achievements of local businesses during the 2009/2010 calendar year. The Best of Colchester Awards Gala will highlight community favorites in twenty-five (25) business categories, using an online voting system to determine the winner in each award category.

Voting has been taking place from May 20th and ends tomorrow,  June 3rd. At the end of the voting period, the Chamber will be announcing the top three vote-getters in each category, with the winner in each category being announced at the Best of Colchester Awards Gala on June 17th.

You can vote as many as five (5) times per IP address. However, please note that once you hit submit, that will be counted as one round of voting, whether you voted in one category or all 25. The Chamber is encouraging voters to vote in all categories, but it is not required.  (Especially if you’re from away and have only visited certain businesses – like ours!)

To vote, please click on the following link:  Best of Colchester Awards and Belgravia Bed & Breakfast is listed under the “Best B&B” Category!

Thank you for your support; we are among some tough competition!  We’ll let you know how it goes!