What factors led you to decide to attend Hudson County Community College?
One of the greatest factors that led me to decide to attend HCCC was the feedback from former and current college friends. The
positive feedback I received referencing the College were truly the reason why I decided to attend. Not only did students
appreciate the costs of the College, but the caring and dedication from the faculty made the decision for me rather quickly.
What is your favorite memory of the College, in or out of the classroom?
My Hospitality classes I had with Ara Karakashian (Mr. K) in the Culinary Arts Institute were not only educational, but were fun as
well. You left his classroom interested and wanting to learn more on a diversity of topics we discussed such as cost control in the
food industry. We had a graduation dinner and Mr. K asked me to speak on my experience about the program. After several attempts to
get on stage, I finally decided to get up and share my story. Mr. K and the rest of the faculty show what it is to be great
How did you become interested in hospitality?
Although HCCC was amazing from the start, I was unsure of my career path. I searched for counselors to assist me on a search for a
major and ultimately decided to join the Hospitality Program. That was the best decision I made! Mr. K was my counselor and guided
me every step of the way.
How did your time at HCCC prepare you for your career/ life now?
I am Senior Human Resources Business Partner for Kushner Company, for the hospitality side. My career advancement has been a huge
success factor in the guidance of my counselors at this amazing college. HCCC prepared me through my prime classes within my
Associate Degree and led me to continue my studies with their articulation agreement at Fairleigh Dickinson University. The
curriculum and internship requirements provided me with real-world experiences for which I am forever grateful.
What is a typical work day for you?
Being in HR is the most rewarding and exciting career path I am glad to have chosen! I oversee three different hotels: The Wave
Resort in Long Branch; the Bungalow Hotel a boutique chic hotel also located in Long Branch; and the Westminster Hotel, located in
Livingston. My commute to work usually is roughly around an hour, during which I catch up on calls with staff members. Every day is
different for me. My day can range from coaching and counseling sessions to benefit enrollment questions.
What has been the most memorable project/case you have worked on?
I had an internship at Hope Lodge in NYC. The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge program provides a free home away from home for
cancer patients and their caregivers. Each Hope Lodge community offers a supportive, homelike environment where guests can share a
meal, join in the evening’s activities, or unwind in their own private room (HopeLodge.org). This was a very rewarding experience
in meeting different patients around the world attending this facility. I was also able to learn the hotel industry which led me to
make a career move after I completed my internship.
Who are your biggest inspirations that have impacted your work in some way?
My biggest inspiration has been Mr. K from the Hospitality program. At one point, I was going to leave HR and seek another
employment opportunity. While attending HCCC, I worked full-time at the Jersey City Medical Center as an HR Specialist. I remember
asking Mr. K every week, “Should I start applying maybe a different field?” One day he said, “Liz, you have great potential and I
really think you can go far with this career. Give it time.” And I am glad I did! Additionally, while working at Jersey City
Medical Center, I was also fortunate to have an outstanding manager, Norma Melendez, who has been working for over 25 years at
JCMC. Her eagerness to teach me was outstanding. She provided me support in learning various aspects of the HR industry that
consisted of labor relations, pension plans, union contracts, payroll and much more! Norma's professionalism and guidance molded my
experience for the future I held in this industry.
What advice would you give to recent HCCC graduates?
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” (Mark Twain) Don’t just pick a major because you
have to pick one; wait for the right time and find your passion. I have such a passion for what I do; I love my career. I never
What advice do you have for those students who are just starting their college careers?
Stay on target and keep reaching for you career goals. Don’t take time off for a year, unless you really have to. I finished my
Associate and right after that summer I went on to FDU for my Bachelor’s and finally my Master’s degree with no time off! I am a
single mom with a beautiful 5-year-old girl who inspires me every day to keep reaching the top! If I could do it, you can too!