Cornelius is a US-born African American who lives in Dorchester. He took our Mel King Empowerment Program (MKEP) class and was hired as a steward at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.

Cornelius came back and spoke to the second MKEP class on “alumni day.” He said, “Starwood is the place to be.” He said he was so shocked at his first paycheck that he assumed there had been a mistake. “I don’t make that much!” he said. Before MKEP, he had been working as a bouncer at a Boston bar for $10/hour. His new job pays him $19.48/hour. To further amaze him, in his job orientation he was advised to “start planning his vacation for next year.” The HR staff suggested he use his Starwood discount to stay in a Starwood hotel in Puerto Vallarta. This was heady stuff for a guy who had never had a paid vacation in his life, let alone at a luxury hotel in Mexico. “I can plan a vacation, I can really plan a vacation. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Cornelius exclaimed. “And we get discounts on six flag tickets. I was able to go to six flags with my daughter on the Fourth of July. I know that may not sound like a big thing but to me it’s a big thing. We got there at 10 a.m. and stayed until 11 p.m. This semester she got on the honor roll and she passed with all “Bs.” I was able to go buy her a bracelet. I know it might sound little but to me it means a lot – it’s huge.”

Cornelius referred a friend (a US born African American with a CORI) to us. This friend is currently taking our Room Attendant class. We expect him to be hired at a Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel shortly after graduation. Cornelius’ daughter is currently taking the on-call banquet server class at BEST Hospitality Training. She is able to take this class free of charge because she is covered by her father’s Local 26 benefits. Upon graduation, we expect her to be hired as an on-call banquet server, probably at the BCEC to begin with, and will earn $40-$50/hour per shift.