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IUPUI student’s dedication to hospitality and service rewarded with new scholarship

INDIANAPOLIS — A new Bill and Joan McGowan Super Service Scholarship recognizes top-performing students who contribute to the greater Indianapolis hospitality, tourism and events industry while simultaneously studying tourism, conventions and event management at IUPUI. The first recipient, IUPUI junior Kirstie Matsushima, was awarded the $3,000 scholarship made possible by the friends and family of former Visit Indy President and CEO, Bill McGowan, and his wife, Joan.

“Kirstie has a great story about transferring to IUPUI because Indy was going to host the Super Bowl. In her essay, she also talked about now understanding the meaning of ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ and that she is proud to live and work in this community,” said Amanda Cecil, associate professor and program director at IUPUI’s Department of Tourism, Conventions and Event Management.

Eligible applicants had to be nominated by their employer, hold a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, and write an essay articulating how they demonstrate Super Service and make a difference in the Indianapolis hospitality community. Bill and Joan McGowan met with all final candidates to conduct in-person interviews, and Matsushima was hand-selected as the winner.  

The new Super Service Scholarship is part of the Super Service program initiative created in 2011 by IUPUI and Visit Indy, the official sales and marketing organization for Indianapolis charged with driving tourism. The purpose was to prepare to host the Super Bowl in February 2012. An enhanced version of the program launched in February 2013 to ensure all members of the Indianapolis hospitality community are knowledgeable ambassadors and deliver “Hoosier Hospitality” to the city’s 22 million annual visitors. Hospitality workers and volunteers are encouraged to take the complimentary Super Service training program.  

“We hear time and again from our visitors that Indy’s hospitality leaves a positive and lasting impression,” said Visit Indy President and CEO Leonard Hoops. “While our Super Service training was initially developed to help maximize the visitor experience for Indy’s Super Bowl, we’ve continued and updated it to help consistently deliver on the promise of Hoosier Hospitality.”

The mission of Visit Indy is to increase Indianapolis economic growth by strategically selling the destination to conventions, meetings, events, and leisure travelers. Indianapolis’ 22 million annual visitors support 75,000 jobs and generate $632 million in state and local taxes and a total of $3.95 billion in economic impact annually.

IUPUI’s Department of Tourism, Conventions and Event Management provides a career-focused, experiential education to over 300 high-performing students annually, preparing them to lead Indiana’s event, hospitality, and tourism industry.