Stripped bedding and towels arrive at the commerciallaundry facility in the hotel’s basement, where a large dryer hums and tumbles white linen tablecloths. Another dryer buzzes, and Lindsay Wright, a hotel management student originally from Kalona, pulls out several lapelled cotton jackets matching the one she wears (above left, with former employee Danielle Cummings).
Each student in the hotel and restaurant management programs — whether serving in the laundry room, on housekeeping rounds, at the front desk, or in the restaurant dining room — wears the gray jacket or, if serving that day in a management role, a gray pinstripe wool blazer. Both serve as an emblem and reminder of professional caliber.
Wright came to Kirkwood to round out her education. With a degree in massage therapy under her belt, she dreams of working in an exclusive resort someday. Kirkwood’s hotel management degree, she says, moves her one step closer to that. She’s considering a degree in restaurant management as well.
“I want to be versatile when I’m finished here. I’d like to tell an employer I could do massage therapy and fill in as assistant manager in either lodging or restaurant,” says Wright, feeding freshly dried tablecloths into a commercial pressing machine with eight-foot rollers.
She envisions a future in Colorado — maybe one of the ski towns. “I’d like to work in a resort where guests have deep respect for service staff.
Those guests understand that the relationships they have with staff make just as much difference in their vacation experience as amenities offered.”
Kirkwood graduates have secured professional roles in a wide variety of venues: hotels, restaurants, casinos, hospitals, senior-care facilities, conference centers, and food corporations. Ninety percent find jobs within 100 miles of the Cedar Rapids campus.
Hospitality Arts Department Chair David Horsfield attributes that strong representation to the college’s respected reputation in the local market.
“It’s part of our charter, if you will, focusing on the seven counties, servicing their educational needs,” he says of a region that includes the burgeoning Cedar Rapids-Iowa City corridor. “We are keeping a pulse on market expectations.”
In the laundry room Wright folds with precision and prepares stacks headed for the restaurant upstairs, where white-clothed tables will later greet guests for dinner.
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