Past, current and new recipients of tourism scholarships gathered earlier this month to network and build relationships.

The Ministry and Department of Tourism hosted the annual Tourism Scholar Networking Reception at Luca restaurant on West Bay Road.

As well as the students and graduates, several individuals from the tourism industry attended the event, including representatives from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, Cayman Turtle Centre and the accommodations sector.

Moses Kirkconnell, deputy premier and tourism minister, MLA Barbara Conolly, councilor for the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, and Rosa Harris, director of tourism, shared some words of advice for the students and graduates.

The graduate speaker this year was Ophelia Manderson, who shared tips with the graduating students, encouraging them to embrace the opportunities their studies abroad allow, and to balance between schoolwork and personal growth opportunities.

“This annual event is designed to bring scholars together to acknowledge recent graduates, offer support to students just beginning their tertiary education and provide networking opportunities with tourism professionals,” according to a press release.

The Ministry of Tourism scholarship program started in 1996 and has awarded more than 200 scholarships since its inception.

Ministry of Tourism graduate speaker Ophelia Manderson, left, accepts a gift bag from Councilor Barbara Conolly, Ministry of Education.

This year’s Ministry of Tourism scholarship recipients are: Carlyle Bulgin, who will be studying aviation management at Florida Institute of Technology; Hailey Myles, who will study culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University; Jonassi Swaby who will study aviation maintenance at the National Aviation Academy; Karlie Lovinggood who will study culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University; Shennique Seales, who will study marketing at Boston University; and Stephanie Phillips, who will study aviation management at Le Tourneau University.

The 2017 graduates this year are: Diego Smith, culinary art, George Brown University; Juwan Christie, aviation instrument and commercial license, Tailwheels Flight School; Lori-Ann Whittaker, tourism and management, University of the West Indies; Ophelia Manderson, hospitality and tourism management, London Metropolitan University; Ronald Mclean, commercial pilot, CTI professional training; Shari Webb, tourism management, Manchester Metropolitan University; Shawn Larsen, commercial pilot, CAMS Flight School; Zachary Scott, sports management, FAB Academy; and Marcia Robinson-Walters, public health, University of Liverpool.

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