From ProStart to Disney
We talk all the time about what ProStart does in the classroom, in the industry and in competitions but we don’t always get a chance to hear what happens after ProStart. This week we got a chance to reunite with one of our Maryland ProStart alumna. Aurielle Austin was a ProStart student at Howard County ARL where she competed on the culinary team for two years in 2005 and 2006.
Aurielle describes her high school experience at the ARL with the hotel and restaurant management program as the best experience ever. “It really jump started everything with my career and made me realize exactly what I wanted to do in the hospitality industry. I knew that I was interested in the industry but it gave me the opportunity to explore my options.” Aurielle and her teammates competed on the culinary team at the Maryland ProStart Student Invitational. Aurielle stated, “I didn’t realize I had culinary skills until I was on the culinary team. I wanted to compete on the team because I thought it was something daring. I was shy and competing in front of judges and spectators gave me a great experience to build confidence.”
That confidence stayed with her after she graduated high school and went on to attend Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina. “My high school education helped prepare me for college by giving me confidence, knowing what to expect and it helped me to earn scholarships.” There is no doubt that it was the right fit for Aurielle. She feels glad that she chose to attend JWU since it prepared her for the entire hospitality experience and to become a well rounded professional. “I think anyone can benefit from an education from Johnson & Wales but especially people interested in entrepreneurship and hospitality should consider this school. College really helped me to develop my public speaking and other vital business skills.”
Today Aurielle works for Disney Resorts in Orlando, Florida. She has worked in different resorts rotating a variety of positions including management positions to become a diversified employee. Currently Aurielle is working at the front desk of Disney Vacation Club Properties of Walt Disney World. Disney is an enormous enterprise with many hotels to suit family needs. More specifically Aurielle works at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa and Disney’s Old Key West Resort.
When asked if she thought this would be where she would settle down or if she had other aspirations, Aurielle replied, “I love Disney and it has been such a great company to work for. Lately I have been considering the possibility of moving to a different Disney theme park or cruise line. I’ve also thought about moving back to Charlotte to re-explore resorts for a business market rather than family focused.” Aurielle’s education and work experience continues to grow and provide the foundation needed to take her wherever she chooses to go.
After seven years have passed, we asked Aurielle what was her favorite aspect of ProStart. She answered, “ Being a family with the culinary teams and being able to continue that family with new students. I was able to keep in contact with friends I made at the National ProStart Invitational from California, Arizona, and Washington, D.C.” For prospective or current ProStart students, she wanted to tell them to never give up. “Go after your dreams. Even if you may be hesitant, there’s nothing wrong with trying. Don’t be afraid.”