Growing up in San Felipe Del Progresso watching his parents struggle financially to operate an event venue in Mexico’s hospitality industry, Joshua Cortes (’18 HBM) developed keen insights that would later shape his education and career paths.
For 30 years his family managed a 300-year-old building as a location for weddings, conferences, and camps for up to 350 overnight guests. Though aware of the financial challenges involved, Cortes was able to see past that and recognize the business potential of the venue as well as its historical and cultural significance. A plan to earn a business degree and continue the family enterprise in the future began to form in his mind, one that came to fruition 10 years after Cortes moved to America.
While living and working in Everett, Cortes saw a poster for the hospitality business management program offered at the WSU Everett campus. “I have always loved hospitality but initially planned to get a business degree,” says Cortes. “The WSU Everett hospitality program was a perfect opportunity to pursue what I love. I was able to stay where I lived and keep my two jobs while still going to school, which helped me pay my tuition.”
DEVELOPING DEEPER INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Cortes says business is becoming more international every day, and the hospitality industry is no exception. He knew that to be successful in his career, developing a deeper international business perspective was vital. He chose to study abroad in the Carson College’s joint hospitality degree program with César Ritz Colleges in Brig, Switzerland.
Cortes also participated in the Young Hoteliers Summit at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, one of the top hospitality schools, and traveled to see how other countries do business. He planned ahead to finish his program and graduate in Switzerland. “Walking in the ceremony at Brig was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am still amazed I was able to experience it,” he says.
SCHOLARSHIPS OPEN DOORS
There is an element of business perspective that is unattainable by only studying in the United States, says Cortes. “Scholarship support opened the doors for me to study abroad and experience something that would normally have been out of my reach.”
During his program, Cortes received the Snohomish County Lodging Association Scholarship, the School of Hospitality Business Management General Scholarship, the Dwight and Beverly Call Scholarship, the Walter F. Clark Scholarship, the Pete Harmon Scholarship, the Mark and Laura Hansen International Scholarship, and the Everett Scholars’ Scholarship. “I am inspired by the donors’ selflessness in wanting to help students pursue their dreams, and they have made me hope to one day start my own scholarship fund,” Cortes says.
Cortes plans to eventually return to Mexico and use his experience and education to create positive change in the area and successfully continue his family’s business.