Eight FIU students are being recognized for being leaders in helping to execute the return of one of the largest wine and food festivals in the world—the Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One.
The students received special recognition and a $1,900 scholarship each during a ceremony on July 14 announcing the Lee Brian Schrager Excellence in Leadership Scholarship. Schrager is the SOBEWFF® founder and festival director.
Under Schrager's direction and that of Festival and FIU staff, more than 1,200 FIU students and volunteers helped stage the 20th anniversary of SOBEWFF® in May.
"The South Beach Wine & Food Festival® is so special to me because it showed me my passion for both the hospitality industry and giving back to my college and community," said Regina Dukat, a senior majoring in hospitality management at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, a top 10 U.S. public hospitality program.
Other winners include hospitality students Ava Barnd, Edward Del Portillo, Fukwang Deng and Stefania Rivera; College of Business student Jasmine Mejia; College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts senior Imani Williams; and economics major Paul Wright.
The scholarship winners served as SOBEWFF® student volunteers, taking the lead in areas such as logistics, culinary and marketing. They all served in leadership roles and led teams of other student volunteers. Each of these students was nominated by their supervisor for exemplifying leadership and commitment to excellence during the 20th anniversary SOBEWFF®.
For Wright, a senior studying economics at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, the Festival experience gives him the real-world, experiential learning needed to continue his graduate studies in project management.
For Deng, it was an incredible bonding experience. "All the culinary leads shared a moment of calm before the storm of the event start. It was a point where we were all on the same page and all together," Deng said.
The scholarship ceremony was followed by an FIU Hospitality & SOBEWFF® Thank You Party on the Chaplin School patio to celebrate and thank all the volunteers and to encourage others to take part next year.
To date, the Festival has raised more than $31.8 million for the Chaplin School and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center. To learn more about volunteering at the 21st annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival scheduled for Feb. 24-27, 2022, follow @sobewffvolunteers and @fiuhospitality on Instagram.