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NMSU program impacted by hospitality changes brought on by Covid

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- The hospitality industry was one of those impacted the hardest during the height of the pandemic. Now, the issue for many businesses is attracting employees back into this industry and this is affecting a popular degree program at New Mexico State University, the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

The school's director, Jean Hertzman, said enrollment for the program has slowly declined over the years.

"We've been fortunate that we've been able to keep our enrollment stable at a pretty low level it is," she said.

Connor Olson is a senior with the HRTM program. He said he saw many of his classmates drop out of the program. "[Covid] definitely affected us big time."

The program is working to attract new students by not only showcasing how it helps students excel in the hospitality industry, but the other fields of business students can use this degree in.

Hertzman says students learn skills like managing and leading teams, as well as financial, marketing and organizational skills. Alumni within the field have gone on to work in agriculture, nonprofits and even education.

Olson said seeing the industry change has solidified his passion for working in restaurants and hotels, something he credits the program for.

"Instead of quitting for the service industry, the service industry will be around for ever. It might look a little bit different. But I knew for myself that it was going to be well, 'how can I work with the new industry?' 'What are the new changes?'"

Hertzman says as the service industry grows, the program works on helping students find jobs before graduation.

To learn more about the program, click here.

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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