Hailey Crow, a member of the Suquamish Tribe, wants to inspire other Native youth to attend college. (Photos courtesy of Hailey Crow)

Hailey Crow Pursues Hospitality Degree to Serve Her Tribe

By Becky Kramer

Crow is a member of Alpha Pi Omega Sorority Inc.
Hailey Crow was a 16-year-old server at the Suquamish Tribe’s Kiana Lodge when her manager spotted her talent potential.

“She said my personality was a good fit for the hospitality industry. She asked if I had any career aspirations in that area,” says Crow, now a senior at the WSU Carson College of Business.

That conversation was the first of several that led Crow to WSU and the college’s School of Hospitality Business Management. Her boss was WSU alumna Laura Lewis (’16 Hosp. Busi. Mgmt.), events planner for the lodge, which hosts corporate events and weddings.

“Hailey has superb customer service skills,” Lewis says. “Besides being friendly and helpful to guests, she was curious and interested in the lodge’s operations. When we were talking about schools, I mentioned my WSU experience.”

At WSU, Crow pursued a hospitality track to learn about hotel and casino management. She’s an enrolled member of the Suquamish Tribe, whose Port Madison Entreprises’ holdings include Kiana Lodge, the Clearwater Casino Resort, a golf course, and other business ventures.

After graduating in May, Crow aims to complete a two-year training program at Port Madison Enterprises, with the eventual goal of being hired into a management track position.

An Example for Native Youth

Crow grew up on the Port Madison Reservation on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. With an outgoing personality and a genuine interest in others, she was drawn to leadership starting in her teens.

Crow chaired the tribe’s youth council, working to get other teens on the reservation involved in service projects and cultural activities. Crow was also the Suquamish Tribe’s representative on the Chief Seattle Days royalty court.

“Now, my focus is getting more young people from my community off to college,” Crow says. “Native Americans—and particularly Native American women—are really underrepresented in higher education. I want to show others it’s possible. That was one of my motivators for going to college and sticking with it, because at times, it was really hard.”

Crow will graduate in May 2022.

WSU’s internationally known hospitality school drew Crow to Pullman, and so did the challenge of being farther away from home. “If I had gone to college in the Seattle area, it would have been tempting to go home on weekends,” she says.

But after attending a high school with a large Native student population, WSU’s Pullman campus was a switch for Crow.

“I was always surrounded by people from my tribe or the neighboring tribe,” she says. “Coming to a predominately white institution, where I didn’t know anyone, was definitely a culture shock.”

Crow joined the Native American Alpha Pi Omega Sorority and made friends through the Native American Student Center. She also got involved with leadership opportunities through the Carson College.

Crow gives tours to prospective WSU students as a Carson ambassador, and she’s active in the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality.

“The friends I made helped me feel more at home in Pullman,” Crow says.

Serving the Suquamish Tribe

Crow credits the Suquamish Tribe for supporting her education. As a graduation requirement, all hospitality business management majors must complete 1,000 hours of industry experience.

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted Crow’s plans for an internship at a Denali National Park lodge in 2020, the tribe offered her an internship at its 18-hole golf course. Last summer, she completed an internship at the resort’s 183-room hotel.

Through the two-year training program, Crow would rotate through the various departments of the casino-resort complex and other Port Madison Enterprises’ holdings. It’s an incredible opportunity to explore career paths at a large hospitality operation, she says.

“I am extremely proud of Hailey, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for her,” Lewis says. “She leads by example. She isn’t afraid to take others under her wing and share her knowledge.”

Wherever she ends up, Crow knows younger members of the tribe will be watching her.

“I want to use my WSU degree to serve my tribe,” Crow says. “I have two younger sisters and a lot of younger cousins. I want to inspire them and show them what’s possible.”