A new year means new beginnings, new resolutions, and new ways for you to get involved with the Alumni Association.
The Alumni Association prides itself in providing quality engagement for our alumni locally and across the country. However, none of these activities would be possible if it weren’t for the help of our exceptional volunteers. Summer Hvasta was chosen as our 2018 Volunteer of the Year. She currently is the general manager of the Homewood Suites by Hilton Lafayette Airport and has volunteered countless hours of her time to the Alumni Association. We sat down with Summer to find out about her volunteer experience and see how she was feeling about this extraordinary honor.
Alumni: Congratulations on being named the 2018 Volunteer of the Year! How did you react when you found out?
Summer Hvasta: I was completely shocked! There are so many wonderful alumni that volunteer their time that the thought never crossed my mind. When they announced my name, I was so surprised.
A: So before you started volunteering with the Alumni Association, can you tell us about your time as a student at UL Lafayette?
SH: Of course! I graduated in 2007 with my undergraduate degree in marketing and legal studies. As a student, I was heavily involved on campus with organizations such as the Diamond Darlings, Ragin’ Peppers, and Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority.
A: Do you have a favorite memory from your time as an undergraduate student?
SH: I always really loved football season! I was also selected as a member of the Homecoming Court in 2007 and that was an awesome experience. I just remember being really active on campus and trying to go to as many events as I could!
A: After you graduated, how did you reach your current job position?
SH: I feel like every college student has this idea that they are going to graduate and get their dream job right out of college. However, once you start putting in your applications, it isn’t always that easy. This was kind of my situation. I finally landed a job at the Hilton (now DoubleTree by Hilton) as their sales coordinator. While I was in that role, I actually went back to UL Lafayette to get my Master of Business Administration. As I was finishing my MBA, I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the opening team of the Homewood Suites. From there I worked my way up through different positons until I was most recently promoted to the general manager of the Homewood Suites by Hilton Lafayette Airport.
A: Did you always know that you were going to work in the hospitality industry?
SH: Not at all! I never even considered it as a career option until I started working at the Hilton. Everyone in the industry says that once you get bit by the hospitality bug, you can’t stop! That was definitely true for me.
A: When did you start volunteering with the Alumni Association?
SH: At first, I really didn’t know what volunteer opportunities were available. I had some friends that were on the Homecoming committee and they encouraged me to volunteer with them. I started out as a normal volunteer and then began co-chairing events. This eventually led to me becoming the Homecoming chair which was really exciting. I also served as the president of the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration Alumni Chapter.
A: How many years have you been volunteering in total?
SH: I started in 2010, so it has been eight years!
A: Do you have a favorite memory from volunteering?
SH: I really loved the first year that we did the Young Alumni Pub Crawl! It was amazing seeing so many people register for this new event. Everyone loved it and we all had a great time.
A: Do you have any advice for someone that is interested in volunteering?
SH: I would say to start by being on a committee. This is a great first step to take! I would also recommend calling the Alumni Association to see where they need help. There are tons of opportunities available throughout the year that you might want to volunteer for. You can get involved just by showing up to events. Start by going to tailgates if you don’t already. This is a great place to make connections and see how you can get further involved.
A: Great answer! For your last question, do you have any life advice for recent graduates?
SH: I’ve always tried to live by the motto that you get out what you put in. If you want to be successful, you have to put in the work. Everything takes effort and time. Ultimately, I think that if you’re willing to put in the work, you can accomplish anything.
Photo: 2018 Volunteer of the Year recipient, Summer Marler Hvasta, with Kyle Bacon, 2017-2018 Alumni Association President, and Jennifer LeMeunier, Executive Director.