IAAPA Foundation Scholarships Support Students’ Career Goals
For several years, the IAAPA Foundation has been working to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in the global attractions industry and aid them in their professional journeys by offering academic and experiential scholarships. To carry out this mission, the foundation partners with four universities that each manage the scholarship program’s application and selection process internally: Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas), San Diego State University, and the University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
When professor Dr. Swathi Ravichandran became the founding director of the Cedar Fair Resort and Attraction Management (RAAM) program at BGSU, she was looking for funding opportunities to assist students in attending IAAPA Expo in Orlando.
“From having attended the Expo in 2019, I was well aware of the high quality of professional development and continuing education sessions, not to mention the Expo floor and the numerous networking opportunities with industry leaders across the world,” Ravichandran says.
“It was important to me that cost not be a factor in students’ decisions in attending IAAPA Expo.”
Ravichandran’s goal for 2021 was to have 25 students attend the Expo. At the time, she believed this was a lofty goal, as the program was still very new and the pandemic was ongoing.
However, with the support of the IAAPA Foundation, which supplemented funds from BGSU itself, 30 students and three faculty members were able to attend IAAPA Expo 2021.
“As young professionals, the networking opportunities afforded at IAAPA Expo are unparalleled,” Ravichandran says. “As our students prepare to graduate and seek leadership positions in the industry that they are so passionate about, IAAPA Expo serves as a tremendous platform to facilitate connections between students and industry leaders.”
Klaus Hoven, senior lecturer of Attractions and Theme Parks Management at BUas in the Netherlands, also works closely with the IAAPA Foundation to bring scholarships and opportunities to students in Europe.
“The scholarships helped the recipients in not only covering their college fees for a year, but also connecting them to the IAAPA network,” Hoven says. “Recipients visited the IAAPA shows in Europe and even became IAAPA Ambassadors—an opportunity that enlarged their network even more and inspired them to pursue an international career. They managed to secure good positions at inspiring companies (all IAAPA members) for an internship or graduation assignment and continued their professional career at these companies.”
One of the students who received assistance from the IAAPA Foundation is 25-year-old João Camurri Fiães. Hoping to become one of the creative minds behind major theme park attractions, Fiães is a student in Breda’s Attractions and Theme Parks Management program, specializing in leisure and events management. Currently, he is interning with IAAPA Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) in Brussels, Belgium. The funds provided by the foundation are set to cover his third year of study.
“This money helps me to get even closer to my goal of becoming an Imagineer,” Fiães says.
Maclane Mautz is a rising junior at Rosen College, majoring in hospitality management and specializing in theme parks and attractions management. From frequenting theme parks and attractions with her family to working as a front-line operations team member at Universal Studios Florida, Mautz has always known she had a passion for the industry. She received a $3,000 scholarship to divide between the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters.
“This scholarship has allowed me to afford housing near both the parks, where I work, and Rosen College, where I go to school, which has had a positive impact on my day-to-day life as a full-time student and part-time employee,” Mautz explains. “Additionally, this scholarship has provided me with connections to IAAPA, as well as free admission to IAAPA Expo. All of my work and academic accomplishments were made possible by IAAPA’s support for my education and future.”
'Sponsor a Scholarship’ Program
The IAAPA Foundation relies exclusively on private donations for its educational programs and scholarships. With the launch of its “Sponsor a Scholarship” program, companies and individuals may sponsor one or more scholarships for students at partner colleges and universities. Scholarships will be named for the donors, and contributors will receive contact information for their scholarship recipient.
Tom Mehrmann, president and chief operating officer, Pacific Rim, Universal Parks and Resorts, has worked with IAAPA in many capacities since 1984, most recently with the Asia-Pacific region. Not too long ago, he and co-author Michael Switow wrote and published “Taming the Mouse,” a book on Ocean Park Hong Kong. Afterward, Mehrmann decided that the book’s proceeds should go toward sponsoring scholarship programs.
“I was inspired by Bonnie and Al Weber’s selfless and generous donation to the foundation for scholarship support to young aspiring professionals in our industry, which also fulfilled Al’s wish of giving back following his passing in 2016,” he explains. “As the book was really a passion project for me, it seemed most appropriate to turn any proceeds into a developmental opportunity for young aspiring professionals in the industry. Our industry is about service, to people by people, and I wanted to offer an outlet for anyone who may have interest but may need a little financial support in pursuing their dreams for a degree in hospitality and tourism management.”
The 2021-2022 scholarship recipients include Catherine Marie Mahr, Caroline Emily Marcotte, Maclane Mautz, Caitlin Cecilia O’Shea, Taylor Nicole Schoolar, Addison Elizabeth Swallows, and Cole Williams from Rosen; João Camurri Fiães and Daniele Menichini from BUas; and Angelina Held, Brooklyn Little, Jano Paredes, Michael Poisson, Sofia Villafana, and Erin Williams from San Diego State University. BGSU also distributed 16 $500 experiential scholarships to students to assist them in attending IAAPA Expo 2021.
This is the second story in a series about the IAAPA Foundation. Read the next installment in Funworld’s November/December issue. Learn more at IAAPA.org/IAAPAFoundation.
The IAAPA Foundation is incorporated in the United States as a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, and accepts contributions from individuals, corporations, trusts, and grant-presenting organizations around the world. All donations and scholarship sponsorships support its mission to inspire future attractions industry leaders. Visit IAAPA.org/IAAPAFoundation. Additionally, AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of all eligible purchases to the IAAPA Foundation at smile.amazon.com/ch/26-4186862.