It took nearly a decade, but she made it: Ginny Egizio is a graduate of Northern Illinois University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program (HTM) She earned her B.S. degree in May 2018 and today, she is working her dream job in events management.
“I genuinely love it and look forward to coming to work every day,” Egizio said of her role as an events recruiter for a Chicago-based healthcare information company, Becker’s Healthcare –ACS.
Egizio’s route to her role began at Joliet Junior College (JJC) where she studied for her associate degree in hotel and restaurant management. She had been taking college courses for a long time – the one constant being an interest in hospitality. She was initially interested in restaurant management, then wedding planning. Then, she said she realized she could take her interest further.
“I knew that I wanted to go to a four-year university afterward. The director of the JJC program said they were developing a hospitality and tourism management degree completion program with NIU. I got accepted to a different school, but I decided to go with NIU,” she said.
Catherine Anderson, professor of hotel/restaurant management at JJC, said Egizio is not unlike many students who doubt their ability to complete an A.A.S. degree, let alone a bachelor’s. For those students, degree completion programs are an excellent option.
“The degree completion program we have with NIU allows students to gain confidence in their academic abilities before moving on to greater and bigger things at NIU. Ginny is the perfect example, it took her a while, but eventually she realized the potential that I had seen in her all along,” Anderson said.
The program was a good fit for Egizio. She was working 40 to 50 hours a week, so traveling to campus every day wasn’t ideal. NIU’s program, with its mix of online and in-class courses, allowed her the convenience and the opportunity to meet other students.
Flexibility was also important for her. When she struggled to pass a particular class outside her major, she feared she would never graduate. But she worked with faculty and her advisor to find a suitable replacement class, allowing her to graduate.
“Ginny had many years of industry experiences when she joined the NIU HTM degree completion program. She had a clear career goal and was very motivated to complete the degree,” said Lan Li, professor and coordinator of NIU’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program.
After graduation, Egizio was well prepared for the job market. Having worked for many years in restaurants, she had experience with customer service. Having her B.S. degree gave her theoretical, management and communication knowledge.
Soon after graduation she found her job as an events recruiter for Becker’s Healthcare – ASC Communications, a business information source for hospital leaders and owners and operators of ambulatory surgery center based in Chicago. Her role includes setting up conferences for hospital and healthcare systems leaders. She invites conference participants, recruits keynote speakers, sets agendas and manages event logistics.
Now on the job, Egizio said she is putting what she learned at NIU into action.
“I am really utilizing what I learned at NIU. The management-based things and communication skills have been super helpful,” Egizio said. “I pinch myself every day that I got so lucky. The job I have is the perfect stepping stone.”