Major: Hospitality Management
Christina Valentine wanted to be a chef from a young age.
“I always dreamed of working in a fine dining restaurant, even though I had never been to one!” she said. “I heard College of DuPage had a great culinary program and knew someone who had graduated with a degree.”
Valentine enrolled and immediately began taking culinary courses. When she met fellow students in the hospitality program, she realized she had not considered working in hotels as a career.
“I had never been to an upscale hotel and frankly did not know the difference between select-service hotels and full-service hotels,” she said. “I was working as a server in a restaurant to pay for school and didn’t love what I was doing. After learning more about the hotel management degree, I decided to change my major. At the time, I applied for a job at Hyatt Place Lombard and landed a position at the front desk.”
The hospitality faculty at COD is knowledgeable and experienced and are great resources.
Her job at Hyatt turned into a career with the company. After spending two years at Hyatt Place Lombard and earning her Associate in Applied Science in Hotel and Lodging Management, Valentine was promoted to the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook and spent several years in leadership roles at the front desk. She then moved up in hotel operations in Denver, Colorado, San Diego, California, New York City, and Andaz Napa, California, as Director of Operations.
In June 2022, she was promoted internationally to her eighth Hyatt hotel as Director of Operations for the pre-opening of the Andaz Doha in Doha, Qatar, which fully opened in fall 2022 before the FIFA World Cup.
“I’ve truly enjoyed my time with Hyatt and want to continue to grow with the company to become a general manager and eventually move into a corporate leadership role,” she said.
Valentine urges students considering hospitality as a career to enroll at COD.
“The hospitality faculty at COD is knowledgeable and experienced and are great resources,” she said. “Use them for career advice and guidance! Mary Beth Leone was truly an amazing mentor to me and inspired me to continue growing my career.”