Photos by Filling the Frame Photography
Kendra Lewis (’21 Hosp. Busi. Mgmt.) is a people person with an enterprising spirit. Her laugh is contagious, and her demeanor is bright and approachable. It is hardly a surprise she found herself working in hospitality even before her journey through Cougar Country.
As a young adult, her strong work ethic and knack for developing relationships led to rapid advancement and a desire to pursue management. “It wasn’t long before I outgrew the opportunities available to me,” she shared during an interview with Mark Beattie, associate vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at WSU Everett.
“I realized I had hit the ceiling within my industry, and I would need to pursue higher education to achieve my new goals and ambitions. So that is precisely what I did!”
Finding joy in the journey
It is easy to get swept up in Lewis’s enthusiasm when she talks about her academic experience. Her love of learning and unshakeable desire to give of herself to others inspired research into hospitality business management programs. When she discovered the Carson College of Business at the WSU Everett campus, she saw her future as a Coug and WSU graduate. Her passion for event management grew as she explored the industry through her classes and projects.
As a senior with a sharp vision of how she would shape her career, she began building her professional network.
“With the pandemic still in effect, I was concerned I would not find work in the industry,” Lewis shared. But Carson Cougs are known for their networking skills, and that strength paid off. “I was offered an internship as an event manager at a local wedding venue, The Wallace Falls Lodge.”
Working for a small, family-owned business in Gold Bar, Washington, was exactly the experience she was looking for, and she was eager to put her education into practice. “I didn’t know it at the time,” Lewis says with a broad smile, “but I had landed my dream job.”
The hospitality industry has a strong foundation in small business. “It is wonderful to see one of our Everett graduates find their passion with a small business that contributes to our local community,” notes Beattie.
Focus, discipline, and positivity
Balancing academics and self-care can be challenging. Lewis believes caring for her physical, mental, and spiritual health was critical to her success as a student and a professional. As a full-time student, working professional, single parent, and a Boeing Scholar, she knows how perseverance, the ability to communicate, and going after real-world experience pay off. “I genuinely believe that what you put into something is what you get out of it. Although an academic journey can be long and very challenging, it will pay off in the end!”
The alumna says the quality of her professional hospitality degree will support a long and successful career in the hospitality industry. Lewis also recognizes that in addition to the challenging work, sacrifice, and faith in herself necessary to achieve her goals, her ability to lean on others for support along her journey was crucial. “I would like to give special thanks to my supportive and loving grandparents, parents, daughter, Uncle Jared and Aunt Reca, brothers, and dearest friend Tasha for the tremendous amount of love, support, and encouragement.”