Student Spotlight: Amanda Morris

Amanda Morris

Amanda Morris
Major: Hospitality and Tourism

When Amanda Morris was in high school, her parents suggested that she investigate a career in the hospitality industry.

But she had no idea what that involved. Instead, after starting at College of DuPage in 2005, Morris switched from one path to another as she searched for the right career.

“I studied nursing, dental hygiene, business management and marketing,” she said. “I took the intro class for each one and knew I either had to love it or find something else.”

Unfortunately, in each case, she needed to find something else. Morris, who worked at a private tennis club at that time, continued to finish her general education courses while looking for the perfect major. Then she met Mary Beth Leone, professor of Hospitality and Tourism at COD.

“The common denominator of each career I tried was helping people. So when I met Mary Beth, I asked, ‘Is there a degree for this?’ And that’s when I finally discovered what the hospitality industry was all about,” she said. “When I enrolled in my first class, I knew right away that I loved it.”

During Morris’ second year in the Hospitality program, the Culinary & Hospitality Center opened at COD, which provided her with an opportunity to work in the Inn at Water’s Edge, a six-room boutique hotel that doubles as a learning lab. Then the College implemented the 3+1 program with Roosevelt University, which allowed Morris to earn her bachelor’s degree at a very affordable tuition rate in Hospitality and Tourism Management without leaving COD’s campus.

The day after finishing her last class with Roosevelt, Morris received and accepted a job offer in sales from Hyatt. In addition, under her own business, she worked on the side for several years planning weddings and special events for several.

In 2008, Morris reconnected with Ximena Beltran, a friend working in public relations. Beltran enjoys social media and digital strategy, while Morris enjoys event planning. The two joined forces and founded their own company, C1 Revolution.

“I knew I just needed to go for it. The scariest part is the jumping out of the plane part, but I knew I had the drive for it,” she said. “Our name stands for ‘crazy ones,’ which comes from a Steve Jobs quote: ‘Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently.’ We want to think outside the box and show people our talents.”

Morris knew it would not be easy. Her days were long – she would run her company from 4:30 to 8 a.m., then work for Hyatt from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then go back to her company from 6 p.m. to midnight. But the work is paying off. In June 2014, the company signed the Four Seasons in Mexico City as a client.

C1 Revolution has now launched a brand extension called Luxe Ones, which Morris is spearheading. Luxe Ones is a full-service event planning and lifestyle company focusing on weddings and social events. Morris is also getting ready to launch a second blog, “Gilt Pineapple,” which she said is for both the consumer and the industry professional. Another lifestyle blog, “LivinLaPanda,” focuses on “being who you are and embracing life.”

In December 2014, she appeared on FOX32 Chicago to share tips on throwing a great New Year’s Eve party. Click here to watch the segment. She also appeared on WGN with some holiday ideas. Click here for that segment.

With her focus now full-time on her company, Morris is trying to find that work-life balance. For example, she is taking classes at Second City just for fun.

As for College of DuPage, she became the most recent alumni in her family, as both parents attended COD. In fact, her mother returned as an adult to switch careers and finished the Nursing program.

Morris continues to stay in touch with Leone and credits the school for giving her the time to find the right career.

“I cannot say enough good things about COD,” she said. “The school gave me quality opportunities, and the professors were always available. It went beyond just having them in class for a semester. They were actually mentors, and all of them wanted to help you grow and do your very best. They are now a part of my life, and I still go to them with questions. 

“College of DuPage helped me find my major without going into debt. It allowed me to find myself as well.”

More about the Hospitality and Tourism Program

C1 Revolution