Are you ready for some football?
While the world was waiting for the big game to be played, students from the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management were already part of Super Bowl 54. More than 30 students from Professor Dan Cormany's Advanced Festival Management class got some real world experience by working at Super Bowl fan events and at the game.
"There's no sitting on the sidelines. Our students are in it," said Cormany, assistant professor of meeting, trade show and event management at the Chaplin School. He's also in charge of the new, online master's degree in hospitality management with a specialization in mega-event planning at the Top 50-ranked school—a first of its kind in the world.
"We're lucky to live and study in South Florida, a global tourism destination, so our students are able to put their classroom lessons into action at the world's grandest events," he added.
One of those students is Danaisy Abascal-Yero, a hospitality management freshman whose resume already includes working at Art Basel, FIU's North Miami BrewFest and the National Association of Catering and Events (NACE).
“Being granted the opportunity to take part in one of the most watched sporting events around the world has definitely been unforgettable," said Abascal-Yero. She and her classmates were in charge of The Play 60 Zone at The Super Bowl Experience at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The Play 60 Zone is an activity area, where parents and kids were able to participate in drills, like throwing and punting footballs, as well as going through obstacle courses that resemble real football trainings. The volunteers were designated to a specific area within the zone, but were allowed to rotate to other areas.
"I was in charge of delivering the footballs back to the guests so that they could throw them toward the target nets," said Abascal-Yero. "It may not seem like a lot of responsibility, but seeing the smiles on kids faces and just being part of the behind-the-scenes logistics was amazing. I'm so thankful to Professor Cormany and FIU for this once in a lifetime experience," she said.
In addition to The Super Bowl Experience, Chaplin students were stationed at Super Bowl LIVE, a week-long fan fest at Bayfront Park. Aruzhan Toleubay was one of those students, who even got to take a picture with the Vince Lombardy Trophy that was awarded to the Kansas City Chiefs and catch a glimpse of celebrities, like Lil Nas X, while there. A handful of students also got to work on Super Bowl Sunday with Populous, the Kansas City, Missouri based company that designed Hard Rock Stadium.
Chaplin students are building their resumes even before graduation. Last year, school administrators saw a need for education in coordinating personnel, volunteers, risk management and sponsorships for mega and large events of more than 10,000 people and implemented the program.
"The school provides volunteer and paid opportunities for students to learn and gain experience at events in South Florida and across the world," said Michael Cheng, interim dean of the Chaplin School. The program addresses the gap between event planning and preparation. The mega-events specialization focuses on course work for festivals, trade shows, major conventions, sports events and concerts of 10,000 people or more.