Westfield High School students have the opportunity to get a head start on a tourism and hospitality degree thanks to a recent partnership between Ivy Tech, Hamilton County Tourism and IUPUI.
Last year, the partnership created a program that allows students to receive up to 12 dual credit hours for free from Ivy Tech through courses taught at the high school. Susie Benko, a tourism instructor at IUPUI, teaches the courses at WHS.
“The tourism industry is a rapidly growing industry,” said Sarah Buckner, destination development manager for Hamilton County Tourism. “We have so many jobs in the area in the hospitality field, whether it be an attraction or hotel or restaurant, so this is our answer, to see if we can fill those positions, whether it be entry level or encourage students to take tourism courses and graduate college and come back here.”
The program expanded this summer to offer internships to the county’s top students. The internships pair students with some of Hamilton County Tourism’s local hospitality partners, such as Conner Prairie, Grand Park, The Great American Songbook Foundation and the Cat Theater. Nine students are participating in the internships.
Last year, 45 students signed up for the first two courses. This year, 42 students have signed up for the two Level I courses, and 12 students have signed up for the two Level II courses. The school is expecting a rise in those numbers as the 2018-19 school year approaches.
Wesftield is the only high school partner in the area. Although there are no new high schools participating in the coming school year, Buckner said she would like to see the program expand across the county.
For more, visit visithamiltoncounty.com.