Fifteen Refugees Graduate from Hospitality & Tourism Institute

A third cohort of participants from Catholic Charities of Buffalo's Immigration and Refugee Assistance Program graduated from the Hospitality & Tourism Training Institute (HTTI) during a ceremony held recently at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

Hospitality & Tourism Training Institute graduate Anab Riyaleh with Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University.

Hospitality & Tourism Training Institute graduate Anab Riyaleh with Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University.

The hospitality/tourism industry-focused training was developed collaboratively by Catholic Charities and Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. It includes classroom training, visits to local hotels and internship experiences. Originally constructed to span 10 weeks, the program has been condensed to an eight-week timeframe, allowing graduates to enter the workforce sooner.

Thirty-seven individuals have now completed the program, including men and women from Burma, Iraq, Somalia, Nepal, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti and Myanmar. They range in age from 19 to 55 years old. A Somalian father and son were among the 15 graduates of the HTTI's third class who were presented certificates by the Rev. James J. Maher, president of Niagara University.

"As a Catholic and Vincentian university, we consider it our mission to work with the community and provide assistance wherever and whenever we can," said Father Maher. "By providing participants with the skills they've obtained during this program, the foundation has been set for them to pave a sustainable career path, thereby enhancing their lives and the community in the process."

The goal of the program is to place graduates in related jobs within 30 days of completing the program, according to Dr. Deborah T. Curtis, CMP, director of Niagara University's Center for Events and Management Development who has led HTTI and conducted the training. Several graduates are already being interviewed by local hotels, including the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, Courtyard Buffalo, Hampton Inn and Suites and Buffalo Marriott HARBORCENTER, all HTTI partners.

The next HTTI session is set to begin on Jan. 25.

The HTTI is supported by grant funding from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and The Statler Foundation. WNYREDC selected Catholic Charities to receive an Unemployed Worker Training Program award of $99,600, funded by the New York State Department of Labor. 

NU's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, founded in 1968, was the first program in the world to offer a bachelor's degree in tourism and has a long history of training individuals to succeed in the industry.

To learn more about the Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute, please contact Dr. Curtis at 716-286-8711 or dcurtis@niagara.edu.