An aerial view of campus featuring the Fine Arts Center, Innovation Hub, and W.E.B. Du Bois Library.
Student Voices

From Halifax to UMass to Italy

Two UMass students posing in front of a step and repeat backdrop

When making the choice to commit to UMass Amherst, the Isenberg School of Management was Ainsley Cicone’s deciding factor. She was admitted to the hospitality and tourism management major—one of the world’s most established and successful hospitality and tourism management programs. Familiar with Isenberg’s excellent reputation, Ainsley knew she had to learn more about it. “Everyone loves Isenberg,” she said. “Everyone knows the name.”

Ainsley’s interest in becoming a hospitality and tourism management student heightened when she visited campus for an Isenberg Destination Day. “That tour was what convinced me to commit to UMass,” she shared. Destination Days are a great opportunity for prospective students to learn more about their college and get a feel for what it’s like to be a student at UMass. For Ainsley, it was life-changing. “I was able to talk to a lot of HTM professors, and they were so welcoming and supportive. They made me realize that hospitality is what I want to do.” 

As Ainsley embarked on her journey as an HTM major, she found herself immersed in a world where her passion for hospitality could flourish. Her support system is largely to thank for that. “My favorite part of being in HTM is the professors,” she said. “They are always there for me. I truly feel like I have a personal connection with each and every one of them.” HTM professors even coordinate Rapid Recruiting Days, which present students with the opportunity to meet with job recruiters. Beyond this event, Isenberg offers a multitude of other resources that provide guidance with career paths and student success – such as the Women In Business organization. 

Despite the challenges of being in a male-dominated field, Ainsley gained confidence by joining the Women in Business club during her freshman year. Now a sophomore, she holds a position on the board as the Director of the Community Service Committee. “Meeting other girls in my major felt so empowering,” she said. Ainsley is also a peer mentor, which has enabled her to connect with and guide HTM majors of all years. All of her experiences have brought her closer to her peers within her college, and for that she is extremely grateful. “The hospitality major is very small,” she said. “You really get to know all of the students and the faculty. It’s been an amazing way to find community.”

Coming from Halifax, Massachusetts, Ainsley initially worried that UMass wouldn’t be the fresh college start she was hoping for. “I knew a lot of people from my high school were going to UMass, and I wanted to be able to branch out,” she shared. Despite her concerns, she quickly found that UMass offers endless opportunities to meet new people and try new things. “I participated in a winter abroad program to Italy, and I met some of my best friends there. I’m able to travel every year with the UMass chapter of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. I met so many amazing people in the Honors dorms and in the clubs I joined freshman year.” There are a plethora of avenues to find your people at UMass, and Ainsley has certainly taken advantage of them.

If there’s anything incoming Isenberg students can learn from Ainsley, it’s that you should seize every opportunity that comes your way. “Just jump into everything. Don't say no to anything.”