George Brown Hospitality & Tourism School Alumni

Kathryn De Campenhout

Graduate 2015, Hotel Management Program

Sales Co-ordinator, Starwood Hotels and Resorts

"I can genuinely say that without this program I would not have the connections in the company that I really wanted to be in. I wouldn't have the technical foundation to do the job I am doing now."

"This program provides an excellent balance between the practical and the academic skills required for a successful career in hotel and hospitality management."
Fred Lawlor, Vice President and General Manager,
Avendra Canada and George Brown graduate.

Jocelyn Blandford

Special Events Planning – Destination Tourism – H111
Graduated 2006


While many recent college graduates were out pounding the pavement for employment in their field, Jocelyn Blandford was getting settled into her new job as an event co-ordinator at Bell Canada shortly after completing the Special Events Planning – Destination Tourism program.

Even before she attended convocation to collect her George Brown College diploma, she was already collecting a paycheque.

"George Brown gave me an advantage because I have the education and experience," says Blandford, who was just finishing a required internship with the Canadian Cancer Society when she applied to Bell. "The program was a good stepping stone into the real world."

Danielle Caputi

Special Events Planning for Destination Tourism – H111
Graduated 2004


Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to figure out what you really want to do and for Danielle Caputi, the third time was the charm.

After one year in a creative advertising program at another college, and then one stint as an administrative assistant, Caputi decided to find her true vocation.

"I quickly tired of the monotonous 9-to-5 office job and realized that I had to get back into school and find something I'd truly enjoy,"says the 23-year-old from North York. While perusing through post-secondary program calendars, she came across George Brown College's Special Events Planning for Destination Tourism program. It caught her attention immediately because it was unique and presented a career path that she had never thought to consider.

Pasu Chu

Graduate, 2014
Hotel Management

Pasu Chu (small image)

George Brown helps graduate move into management role at Westin

Pasu Chu credits George Brown's Hotel Management program with boosting him to the next level in his career and helping him achieve his current role of assistant manager of banquets at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto.

"George Brown's program took the spark of my initial interest in hotels and ignited it fully through its immersive teaching," says Chu.

Christine Cushing

Food and Beverage Management
Graduated 1986


For Christine Cushing, her love of culinary arts wasn't just a passing fancy. To follow her lifetime passion for cooking, she pulled out of linguistic studies at the University of Toronto to take George Brown College's Food and Beverage Management course.

Excited about her new classes, Christine was always inquisitive and inventive. For one assignment where the goal was to prepare a pasta dish, she decided to add a touch of cinnamon to the meat sauce. It's a common practice in her home country Greece, meant to give just a hint of sweetness. The instructor detected the flavour immediately and though it wasn't what he asked for, he had to admit it tasted good.

Heather Dahmer

Special Events Planning - Destination Tourism – H111
Graduated 2004


After graduating from high school, Heather Dahmer studied makeup artistry and began working in the beauty industry. But she soon realized that she needed something more stable and secure.

"It was a very hit-and-miss industry,"Dahmer explains. "I'd have work one week and nothing the next." So she began searching for a new career. Her mentor, who she met through a family connection, was an event planner for an investors group.

"I'd always been interested in her career. So I sat down with her and asked her what she did. She guided me in this direction,"Dahmer recalls.

In her research of college programs, she came across Special Events Planning -Destination Tourism, offered by George Brown College. The January start-up fit her schedule perfectly so she enrolled.

Tim Johnson

"After a successful co-op with the Imago Inc. and the Duke of Argyle, I moved over to the Eaton Centre and worked at the Duke of Richmond for 9 months as a server, bartender, chef, similar to a Junior Management position. Then, on March 17 (St, Patrick Day of course!) I was moved up town to the Duke of Kent. It is located at 2315 Yonge St, just a small block North of Eglinton. I am now one of the managers there, and things are going great! I've been able to incorporate many of the things I was taught in the Food & Beverage Management program into my daily tasks, and try to pass those things I learned on to my staff."

Alejandro Holguin

Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, Graduated 2009


Alejandro Holguin moved to Canada from Colombia to build a better life for himself, and found at George Brown College the tools to help him achieve this goal, step by step.

When Holguin landed in Toronto in 2000 at the age of 19, it was with the intention of pursuing a better quality post-secondary education than he could access back home.

Holguin's interest in working with the public within a hospitality setting provided the inspiration for his career plans – plans that came to fruition through his involvement in the Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Program at George Brown. The multidisciplinary two-year diploma program, in which Holguin enrolled in 2007 after a few more years of restaurant work, English language training and one year of business administration studies at the college, taught him all the skills needed to provide top-notch customer service in restaurants, hotels, resorts and conference centres.

Fred Lawlor

Hotel Front Office and Reception
Graduated 1975


More than 30 years ago, Fred Lawlor attended George Brown College for a certificate in Hotel Front Office and Reception.

Although he was a GBC student for only a brief time, the three-month co-op program opened the door to a long and successful career in the hotel industry for Lawlor.

"I had been working in the business since I was 17 years old and I was looking for ways to really get into it,"he recalls. "I only had food and beverage experience up until then and I thought the George Brown program was a good opportunity to get onto the front desk." It proved to be a smart move for Lawlor as he landed a co-op placement in the front office of the Four Seasons Hotel. Since then, Lawlor has garnered extensive experience working for major chains like Canadian Pacific Hotels and Fairmont Hotels (which were separate companies until 1999).

John Praskey

Graduate, 2012
Food and Beverage Management

John Praskey

George Brown elevates server towards a career in food and wine

John Praskey had worked nearly every position in the restaurant industry before he started thinking of it as a career option.

"I had always enjoyed hospitality work, but had never really evaluated it as a career until I began taking on more responsibility in front-of-house positions," says Praskey, who already held a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Waterloo. "As soon as I realized that I wanted to progress further, educating myself seemed like the right way to start treating hospitality as a career and learning where it could take me."

Julia Newlands

Hotel Management H103
Graduated 2003


When Julia Newlands looks back on her experience as a student at George Brown College, what really stands out in her mind is the hands-on experience she got from her externship.

"I was really lucky to have the opportunity to do my placement at such a nice hotel as the Park Hyatt,"says Newlands. "It really showed me firsthand what it is like to work in a hotel." Since graduating in 2003, Newlands has been applying everything she learned from the two-year program to her work with Metropolitan Hotels, best known for their chic boutique-style franchises like Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver, Metropolitan Hotel Toronto and SoHo Metropolitan Hotel.

Rahul Sam


Bachelor of Applied Business, Hospitality Operations Management, Graduated 2008

While many of his peers were kicking back with video games after a hard day of high school, Rahul Sam and his friends were busy whipping up one of Jamie Oliver's latest recipes. Not your average teenage preoccupation, but then again there is nothing average about Rahul. Now at the age of 23, the Bachelor of Applied Business (BAB) in Hospitality Operations Management graduate finds himself in the rare position of managing the food and beverage operations of Toronto's largest hotel. During a busy day as Assistant Banquet Manager at the Sheraton Centre, Rahul can oversee the delivery of up to 10,000 meals and supervise up to 50 food servers.

Even though the goal is clear now, working in the hotel business was never his first aspiration. Rahul always thought he would become a doctor, but then realized that his passion of food was more suited to a career as a chef. He decided to take the four-year BAB program before starting his culinary training. "Something happened at the end of my first year; I discovered a love of numbers and an interest in leading people," he says.

Saige Sills

Special Events Planning for Destination Tourism – H111
Graduated 2004


Saige Sills is passionate about music, enjoys travelling and loves to be around people so what job could be more perfect than working for the Juno Awards, Canada's top musical honour?

It's the kind of job that keeps you on your toes but Sills, also a musician, has the determination and drive to survive in this business. And having a diploma in Special Events Planning doesn't hurt either.

"Graduating from George Brown College has allowed me to believe I am capable of reaching any and all of my goals,"says the 25-year-old. "My educational background has empowered me to accomplish many different jobs within my workplace."

Omar Smith

Hotel Management – H103
Graduated 1998


Growing up near Ocho Rios, a major tourist area in Jamaica, it only seemed natural for Omar Smith to work in the hospitality industry after graduating high school.

In a few short years, he had worked at some of the top-rated all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean including Sandals and Couples resorts. While Smith had no trouble getting work experience (which included being the best man in over 200 weddings), a good education was what he was really looking for.

Smith was working as a guest services agent and night auditor at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios when he got his lucky break.

"My general manager and mentor was a George Brown College graduate and he sought the help of Brian Cooper (former Dean of Hospitality and Tourism) to assist me in furthering my education,"says Smith.

Tiffany Tunstead

Special Events Planning for Destination Tourism – H111
Graduated 2005


Event planning is not for the shy or the timid. That's why Tiffany Tunstead decided to pursue a career in this fast-paced, exciting industry.

"I think people who know me would describe me as outgoing and very personable,"says Tunstead, 21. "I will pretty much talk to anyone." Being a very social person, Tunstead was always involved in organizing activities and fundraisers at her high school, which led her to consider a career in event planning.

Initially, she was going to study English and history in university but just before post-secondary school applications were due, she changed her mind completely.
Instead, she applied to Humber, Seneca and Centennial for general hospitality and tourism programs and to George Brown College for Special Events Planning.

Sarah Vandermeer

Special Events Planning for Destination Tourism – H111
Graduated 2005


Sarah Vandermeer loves to make people happy.

As an event planner, her daily routine is full of opportunities to put smiles on people's faces, whether she is pitching creative ideas to make a client's event better or planning the logistics around a charitable benefit.

Vandermeer, who currently works at Jump! Creative, decided on event planning as a career only a few years ago after pursuing a degree in English. She says she liked the idea of interacting with others, channelling her creativity towards good causes and constantly being challenged and inspired to do better.

Enza Velocci

2008 Graduate - Applied Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Operations Management


In 2004 I received a $2.000 scholarship award from the OHI "college entrance award." Then in February 2005 I started working as a Front Desk Agent at the Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton Toronto Airport. I received a "wow award" from Hampton Inn and Suites Head Office (Hilton Hotels) for exceptional customer service/ customer satisfaction.

I then moved to Frosinone, Italy (about 1 hour away from Rome) shortly after I graduated (October 08) and opened an Event Planning Company.

Colleen Walker

Graduated: 1985

Colleen Walker is the president and co-owner of Catered Affare, one of Toronto's largest full-service catering and event planning companies. Through her creative vision, Catered Affare has grown to serve more than 50,000 guests per year, catering 15 to 25 events per day. Walker also gives generously of her time and experience to help other women entrepreneurs and to promote professionalism and high standards in her industry. She says that the George Brown Culinary Management program taught her to think creatively about food and management, which she has applied to all aspects of her catering and event planning businesses.

Chris Palivan

Chris Palivan

Graduate 2014

Chris Palivan graduated from the Special Event Management Program. In the four years since co-founding the Toronto Cider Festival, Chris Palivan has grown the award-winning event into the largest cider festival in Canada. Together with the Toronto International Cider Awards, launched in 2017, Palivan hopes to put Toronto on the map as an international cider hub. Palivan also lent his event planning skills to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, the 2017 Toronto Invictus Games and the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. In recognition of the positive impact of his own education, Palivan established the annual Toronto Cider Festival scholarship in Special Events Planning program at the college.


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