Kate Smith, an immigrant from Ireland, chose to pursue her business degree in International Hospitality Management from CCPS

Kate Smith
March 30, 2020

My name is Kate Smith and I grew up on a small dairy farm in the midland of Ireland. There was plenty of milk, homemade butter, fresh fruit, and vegetables—but of course that meant plenty of work to be done also! Working on the farm took up many hours of my day, but it instilled in me a good work ethic and an appreciation for organic food. 

English is my first language, but we had to learn the native tongue, Gaelic. We also learned other subjects through Gaelic, specifically math and history, and that was not easy. Today, Gaelic is a lost language and only spoken in remote parts of Ireland called the Gaeltacht. 

I finished high school, but had often been reminded that a university education was not for a farmer’s daughter. Going to college was not an option for me because small farmers just did not have the money to send their children for a third-level education—you did not need a college degree to work on a farm. 

I emigrated to the restaurant capital of the world, New York, in the early 1980s. When I saw those big, bright, city lights, I fell in love with the area—so I stayed and became a New Yawker! I worked in many restaurants throughout New York City, in almost every aspect of the business, including as a dish washer. I received much on-the-job training; the 1980s was a great time to be in the restaurant business as it was booming. 

But I wanted more—I wanted to get an education and learn the business side. Fast forward a few years: I applied to the College of Professional Studies (now called The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies) at St. John’s University to study hospitality management. Because I work full time, I am a part-time student. I am proud that I will graduate in May of 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management, while also on the pathway to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in International Hospitality Management (IHM). 

I will be the first in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. When St. John’s introduced the master’s program in 2019 for IHM, it made perfect sense for me to apply. The courses focus on marketing and sales, human resources, finance, law, globalization, and competitive methods for multinational companies and leadership. 

Graduates of the IHM program are sought-after for their high quality and relevant education. I hope with my education and past hospitality experience, the M.S. in International Hospitality Management will take my career to the next level and I will attain a leadership role where I can have a real and immediate impact in the industry. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”