Villegas Ventures a Vibrant Future

Villegas+graduates+from+UNLV+with+a+hospitality+management+degree.+When+Villegas+was+in+high+school%2C+he+was+in+International+Baccalaureate+and+Hospitality+and+Tourism.

Courtesy of Kennedy Villegas

Villegas graduates from UNLV with a hospitality management degree. When Villegas was in high school, he was in International Baccalaureate and Hospitality and Tourism.

Kahleia Corpuz, Editor-in-Chief

Valley alumni Kennedy Villegas is now the front desk supervisor for the W Hotel Aspen.

Villegas attended Valley almost four years ago. During this time, he was an active member of Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) and the captain of Dance Bravo. Along with his club activities, he was in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and Hospitality and Tourism (H&T) program. Villegas graduated from Valley as the class of 2017’s valedictorian, something he said he did his absolute hardest to achieve.

“My experience at Valley was different from most,” Villegas said. “Everyone was so focused on the ‘fun’ parts of high school, like school dances, spirit weeks, senior events, and more. Not to make me sound like a loser, but I was heavily focused on my academics…. I came from an underprivileged and difficult adolescence, so I worked very hard to benefit my future. I purposely became Valedictorian of my class so I could receive scholarships to help my single mother pay for college.”

After graduation, Villegas received a full-ride scholarship from the Epicurean Charitable Foundation, a charity which supports students who are interested in pursuing careers in hospitality, for the University of Las Vegas Nevada (UNLV). Alongside going to college straight out of high school, Kennedy worked as a front desk agent for Caesars Palace Las Vegas and Nobu Hotel in Las Vegas. He graduated in three-and-a-half years with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. Shortly after, he participated in an internship with Marriott International in Aspen, Colorado.

“Colorado is so different from Nevada,” Villegas said. “It is a lot colder and has this thing called ‘snow.’ Within these two months, my role was a Guest Services Support Expert, which allowed me to assist the Food & Beverage, Housekeeping, and Security departments of three luxury hotels in Aspen: W Hotel, St. Regis Resort, and the Ritz-Carlton Club. It was an eye opening experience because I was able to immerse myself deeply into the different fields of hospitality.”

An opportunity with the W Hotel Aspen came to Villegas, allowing him to be interviewed and hired on the spot to become the Front Desk Manager. Villegas attributes this to his experience, adaptability, persistence, and passion. However, Villegas still has goals he wants to achieve beyond his professional ones.

“My accomplishments are not final because everything I do becomes the stepping stone for the next chapters in my life,” Villegas said. “Being the first-generation in my family to graduate from high school and college was awesome, but I also hope to become the first to get my masters. I bought a house at the age of 20, but I also hope to finish paying off my loan and buy more properties in the future. I received a managerial role after college, but I also hope to become a senior-level executive by the time I am in my thirties.”

Villegas is also an advocate for mental health, something he says he is continuing to work on and improve on every day. He also claims his greatest motivation and inspiration are women, most notably, his mother and Lady Gaga.

“Growing up with a predominantly female influence has allowed me to become open-minded, compassionate, creative, and independent,” Villegas said. “These women have sacrificed so much to make a better world for me and others. They are hard-working and are resilient no matter the obstacle. Self-expression has been taught by them and they remind me to value myself everyday. Women just do it better.”

No matter how far Villegas goes, he still attributes the person he is today as a product of his experience at Valley. He continues to thank his teachers who he says were the people who believed, motivated, and pushed him to achieve and find his passion.

“Again, the teachers were the sole reason for the memorable high school experience that I had at Valley,” Villegas said. “I appreciated every teacher at Valley that I met. I wish I can thank each one in person. Thank you Ms. Duff for running an amazing and long-lasting dance program at Valley. Thank you Mr. Snape for making my last year in IB less dreadful. Thank you Ms. Pedrick for giving me the courage to express myself, especially in writing. Thank you to Dr. Capps for sharing your passion and humor about the sciences. Thank you to Mr. Wright and Ms. Addante for helping me achieve my academic goals. And biggest thank you to Ms. Withrow and Ms. Jones for being like mothers to me during my time in H&T. Ms. Withrow and Ms. Jones literally screamed and cheered at everything I accomplished at Valley. As for the new teachers at Valley, I shout you out because you have the power to make a huge impact to all the generations to come. Thank you Valley!”