It’s graduation season, which means newly matriculated students are eager and anxious to enter the workforce.
Select graduates at the University of Houston received fantastic inspiration from their commencement speaker, Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy, as she spoke on the impact of travel and tourism across many fields, as well as how it makes a difference in people’s lives.
Carnival Cruise Line President Inspires Graduates
On Friday, May 12, 2023, Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy delivered the spring commencement address to graduates of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership at the University of Houston.
“It is an honor to congratulate this hardworking group of graduates and to welcome them, our future leaders, into the travel and hospitality industry as they embark on the next important steps in their lives and careers,” said Duffy.
In her address, Duffy emphasized the tremendous economic importance of the travel and hospitality industry, including how both large and small communities are impacted by tourism.
“The impact of travel and tourism goes beyond cruises and hotels and theme parks. Our industry generates tens of billions of dollars of economic activity and innovation every year across technology, sustainable energy, food security and water conservation, and construction practices,” said Duffy.
“We have a responsibility to lead beyond our own business and to set an example for other sectors in how we must innovate, improve society, protect natural resources and create a workplace that is diverse and inclusive.”
Not only do all aspects of travel, hospitality, and tourism intersect with other fields, but at its core, the industry brings together families and friends, old and new, to create new memories and lasting moments.
“It’s a big responsibility, but after talking with the students here in Houston today, my optimism for a bright future is as strong as ever,” she continued. “The great news is that demand for travel and hospitality in 2023 and beyond is greater today, than it was in 2019 – which bodes well for your future!”
Duffy also emphasized just how much travel matters, and referenced the impact the global pandemic had on the industry.
“The pandemic showed us just how important the ‘Freedom to Travel’ is,” she said. “While the cruise industry was shut down for 16 months, most of the country and the world was faced with restrictions that severely limited the ability to travel. Sometimes it takes losing something to realize how important it is.”
A Varied Career as an Example
Throughout her address, Duffy emphasized the diversity of the travel and hospitality industry and how it can truly take graduates anywhere.
“There are many, many different places a career in this industry can take you,” Duffy said. “I’m a great example of that, given my start as a receptionist in a travel agency – to 40 years later, being President of the world’s most popular cruise line!”
Duffy’s career to become the first woman president of Carnival Cruise Line has been a long and varied road to travel that began not with a college degree, but as a travel agent in Philadelphia.
She has worked with corporate meetings and events, and was president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), as well as served on various boards and with different associations promoting travel.
In 2014, Duffy was selected as president of Carnival Cruise Line, taking over the position after Gerry Cahill retired.
It is diversity that Duffy credits for adding strength to the travel industry, that a diversity of perspectives strengthens a group and promotes success.
Today, college-educated travel, hospitality, and tourism experts are sought after for leadership positions and to bring their expertise to all aspects of the industry. Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership at the University of Houston offers a variety of programs to help students become those experts with seven undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs.
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The elite school has approximately 650 undergraduate students, and roughly 125 Master’s students in different specialized disciplines. Together, the student body represents 30 different countries, and over the years, more than 9,500 of the school’s alumni work in hospitality leadership positions in more than 50 countries worldwide.