By Ashley Hughes
Coming home to Colorado set Samuel Berg on a path to take his career in hospitality nationwide.
Though he grew up in Longmont, Berg spent his final year of high school in Idaho, where he competed on the cross-country team. It was a chance connection between his coach and someone in the cross-country program at Metropolitan State University of Denver that opened the door for him to return to Colorado to attend MSU Denver's School of Hospitality.
“I came onto campus and visited, and I really liked not only the campus, but I really liked the city and the atmosphere in the city as a whole,” Berg says. “And that’s what really drove me to come to MSU Denver.”
As an event- and meeting-management major in the School of Hospitality and a member of the cross-country and track-and-field teams, Berg has earned a variety of academic and athletic accolades, culminating in being named the fall 2019 Provost’s Award winner.
While he’s proud of his accomplishments in intercollegiate sports, when he looks back on his career he’ll remember much more than competing.
“It will be about the interpersonal skills, relationships and positive habits I made along the way,” Berg says. “I learned how to push myself, face resilience, be a leader and work as a team.”
Janis Christopher, MSU Denver head track-and-field coach, says she could always count on Berg, “whether it means competing in a particularly difficult event, helping to organize team activities, participating in community-outreach events or motivating our team through his enthusiasm.”
In looking forward to his future career in the hospitality industry, Berg harks back to his experience working as a restaurant server in Idaho. He always enjoyed that it was his job to take care of people when they were going out to have fun, he says.
But it was a hospitality accounting class taught by Assistant Professor James Drake, Ph.D., that elevated his interest into a career path.
“Professor Drake really made it interesting and engaging – the classes as well as the content matter really clicked with me,” Berg says.
Drake says Berg is easily one of the top-performing students in his class. “He consistently engages in classroom discussion, asks thoughtful questions and has an excellent work ethic,” Drake says.
And Berg’s academic advisor, Eunjoo Kang, Ph.D., assistant professor of meeting and event management, predicts he will be successful.
“I believe he will be an outstanding manager in a few years and be a valuable asset in our hospitality industry,” Kang says.
One big industry opportunity provided by MSU Denver has already had a major impact on Berg’s career trajectory. In fall 2018, he was selected for the Rita and Navin Dimond Fellows Program, which affords recipients hands-on experience at select Stonebridge Cos. properties across metro Denver.
RELATED: Dimond Fellows embrace hospitality
The fellowship opened the door to an internship this past summer with Hilton Worldwide in Dallas, where Berg gained firsthand experience setting prices for different hotels. Berg’s work was so strong that the company made him an offer to come back full time after he graduates from MSU Denver.
“My title will be a revenue specialist, and I will basically be given a portfolio of different hotels across the United States, and I will work with the operators of the hotels to set their rates in order to maximize revenue,” Berg says.
While he’s moving on from Colorado again, he says Denver will always be the place where he became the person he is today.
“I came here not knowing really what I wanted to get out of higher education or what to expect,” Berg says. “But the city and the University have proved to be the perfect place for a young student to grow into their own.”
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