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Graduation Ceremony Held for First Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute Class

by sbrown

Catholic Charities of Buffalo, Niagara University Partners in Occupational Skills Program

Tue, Jun 2nd 2015 04:00 pm
Students who completed the first Hospitality and Training Program following the graduation ceremony.
Students who completed the first Hospitality and Training Program following the graduation ceremony.
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Twelve clients of Catholic Charities of Buffalo's Immigration and Refugee Assistance Program were conferred certificates today in a ceremony celebrating their completion of the first Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute (HTTI) class. The 10-week hospitality/tourism industry-focused training is in partnership with Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management Program.

Joseph Nzikamira, who came to Buffalo from the Democratic Republic of the Congo two years ago, was chosen by his classmates to speak on their behalf at the ceremony.

"It is for me an enormous pleasure and a great privilege to be standing here on behalf of other students to express the happiness we feel in our hearts today," said Nzikamira. "It is a momentous event because it marks the end of a special period characterized by doubts, brainstorming and commitment to continue and succeed. After 10 intensive weeks of hard work for both Dr. [Deborah T.] Curtis and students, we finally made it. That is why we are so grateful to everyone who contributed to this program."

Deborah T. Curtis, CMP, director of Niagara University's Center for Events and Management Development who has led HTTI and conducted the training, recognized the students' hard work not only in the program, but in all they have experienced in their lives up to this point, noting, "It wasn't positive situations that brought them here but it is a positive situation that will keep them here now."

Curtis talked about each student and how the class became more than a group of individuals.

"You started in this program as individual refugees, but you are leaving today as family."

Finally, she recalled one student's comment during the classes, "He said, 'I love Mondays. I love Mondays because I get to come to class and learn things.' "


Niagara University President Father James J. Maher, C.M., and Catholic Charities Chief Executive Officer Dennis C. Walczyk presented the certificates to the graduates whose native countries include Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nepal and Somalia, and who have been in the United States from just a few months to two years.

Addressing the graduates, Dennis Walczyk referred to a letter written recently by Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, and Episcopal Bishop R. William Franklin, in which they stated, 'Let us never forget that everyone has to be included in this growth and prosperity' now occurring in our region. So you are part of the 'everyone,' our new arrivals, our future, and you should be recognized. Congratulations - we look forward to working with you to continue to help you succeed."

Father Maher praised the collaboration of the HTTI and recognized the students' efforts.

"This is a wonderful partnership between Catholic Charities and Niagara University that already has proven successful," said Father Maher. Speaking to the students, he said, "I congratulate you on your tremendous accomplishment today and I want you to know that this a Niagara University program, so you can now tell everyone you are a graduate of a program of Niagara University."

The 10-week training program for clients of Catholic Charities IRAP included classroom training, visits to local hotels and internship experiences. It is the first of four sessions planned for 2015-2016. The next session begins June 15.
The goal is to place graduates in related jobs within 30 days of completing the program. Several graduates are already being interviewed by local hotels.

The HTTI is supported by grant funding from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and The Statler Foundation, as announced earlier this year. WNYREDC selected Catholic Charities to receive an Unemployed Worker Training Program award of $99,600, funded by the New York State Department of Labor.

IRAP Director Ann H. Brittain and staff members, The Statler Foundation Chairman Robert Bennett, and families of the graduates attended the ceremonies.

NU's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, founded in 1968, was the first program in the world to offer a bachelor's degree in tourism and has a long history of training individuals to succeed the industry.

Founded by the Vincentian community in 1856, Niagara University is a comprehensive institution, blending the best of a liberal arts and professional education, grounded in our values-based Catholic tradition. Its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, and Hospitality and Tourism Management offer programs at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral level.

As the first Vincentian university established in the United States, Niagara prepares students for personal and professional success while emphasizing service to the community in honor of St. Vincent de Paul. Niagara's institutional commitment to service learning has led to its inclusion on the President's Honor Roll for Community Service every year since its inception in 2006, and its recognition with the Carnegie Foundation's Classification for Community Engagement.

Catholic Charities annually resettles nearly 600 refugees and provides services to another 400 immigrants. Pre and post-arrival services such as assistance with housing, food, clothing and employment are provided, as well as naturalization workshops and citizenship classes. For more information, call (716) 842-0270.

For 91 years, Catholic Charities of Buffalo has been making a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity in Western New York. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assess its clients for other needs to ensure long-term success. It is the most comprehensive human service provider serving Western New York.  For five years, Catholic Charities attained the highest possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives highest ratings for quality of service from the Council on Accreditation.

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