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New Mexico State University

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Belen Native Does More Than Term Papers at WMSU

Most people see college as traditional classrooms with lectures, term papers, computers and books. For 21-year-old Shannon Vallez, of Belen, working at the Colorado Springs Marriot and planning banquets is a big part of her education.

Vallez is a senior majoring in hospitality and tourism services (HTS), one of the most popular majors at New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences .

Hospitality and tourism services prepares students to manage restaurants, hotels and resorts. Students can specialize in food and beverage operations, tourism services, hotel/resort operations, or convention, meetings and special event administration.

As a senior in high school, Vallez came to NMSU for a summer regents program. She took a mini course in HTS and liked it.

Vallez did an internship with the Colorado Springs Marriot last summer. She spent half her time planning banquets and the other half in housekeeping. She also planted flowers at the hotel and worked as a hostess in hotel's restaurant.

"I like hospitality and tourism because it's different. I also like to make people happy and the fast pace of the job," Vallez said.

Vallez is one of 14 students taking an advanced restaurant operations class this spring semester. The class gives students hands on experience planning and conducting banquets, said Michael MacHatton, HTS professor. "Students need management and practice pulling together theory and experience," he said.

Vallez and her classmate planned an American regional dinner where they served food from different regions of the United States. "We served the dishes mixed together which is called fission cuisine. It's a new trend," Vallez said.

The pair worked diligently for four weeks to get the decorations, entertainment, menu and work crew organized. Approximately 90 guests attended the dinner.

"The class prepares you for a job, and it's a lot of work," Vallez said. After the dinner, the team must write a paper which includes all of the recipes used, the menu, work schedule and a description of everything that happened,good and bad at the dinner, Vallez said.

Vallez is a full-time student at NMSU and is the assistant head of Women's Resident Center dorm. "I plan more than 400 programs for the residents each year. Everything from cookouts to workshops on how to use E-mail," she said. MORE

Being the president of the Hospitality and Tourism Services Association occupies Vallez's free time. She also is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Zeta honors fraternities, as well as Eta Sigma Delta (the HTS honors group).

Vallez will graduate in May and has accepted a position with the Colorado Springs Marriot as an assistant banquet manager. She is the daughter of Edwin and Martha Vallez of Belen.