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NMSU Hospitality Student Serving Internship at Guantanamo Bay

LAS CRUCES--Jolie Tixier, a junior at New Mexico State University, is in Cuba this summer on an unusual mission: serving as a civilian intern for the Navy's Morale, Welfare and Recreation program in Guantanamo Bay.



Jolie Tixier, a junior at New Mexico State University, volunteered for a summer assignment as a civilian hospitality intern with the Navy's Morale, Welfare and Recreation program in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (06/01/2005) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

Tixier (pronounced ti-SHAY) works on the food and beverage team and expects to lend a hand with fitness, youth and special events on base this summer. The hotel, restaurant and tourism management major was among 40 students chosen nationally for the program, three of whom are interning in Cuba.

Since graduating as one of 19 members of her high school class in Lindrith, 20 miles northwest of Cuba, N.M., Tixier has set her sights on international work.

Fluent in Spanish, she has already studied abroad in Costa Rica. She and NMSU classmates had applied for internships at U.S. military bases "but she didn't know she'd end up in Cuba," said Priscilla Bloomquist, associate professor in the hotel, restaurant and tourism management department.

After receiving assurances about safety at Guantanamo Bay, where civilian employees and military personnel are not allowed off base, Tixier had only an hour to give her answer. "I called my parents, then said yes."

Bloomquist said other NMSU graduates are pursuing hospitality careers as civilian employees with the military, which has international openings in housing, food and recreation operations.

Tixier will graduate next May. "I knew about the hotel, restaurant and tourism management program at NMSU, and that's what I came for," she said