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2017 International…

When a St. Philip's College alumnus became the first faculty member at the college to earn unique 2017 recognitions for excellence in hospitality industry education and leadership from both the City of San Antonio and Visit San Antonio, history was made.
2017 International Certified Ambassador of the Year

2017 International Certified Tourism Ambassador of the Year

When a St. Philip's College alumnus became the first faculty member at the college to earn unique 2017 recognitions for excellence in hospitality industry education and leadership from both the City of San Antonio and Visit San Antonio, history was made. As hospitality students and faculty return to campus, they are learning that the same continuously improving alumnus has garnered the highest international version of the local award from the Tourism Ambassador Institute.

The 2017 season has been a big season for college alumnus and hotel management faculty member David Uminski. After completing two exciting terms as Riverwalk Prince of the Fiesta San Antonio royal court in 2015 and 2016, he earned congratulations for performance excellence from the City of San Antonio following the May 3 announcement of his selection as Visit San Antonio’s 2017 Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) of the Year award recipient. When Uminski and all area ambassadors of the year from California to Bermuda were evaluated as candidates for selection as the International CTA of the Year, the institute announced Uminski as its 2017 International CTA of the Year on June 16. His achievements as an educator and as an ambassador with international recognition are likely to be celebrated when all faculty return to campus in a few weeks, said Chef Will Thornton, chair of the college's Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts department.

The award is definitive, as the Arizona-based institute is the accrediting body for the ambassador program, accrediting organizations in regard to their program of study for front-line hospitality employees and volunteers, leading to CTA certification. The institute develops customized certification programs. Those programs are administered by tourism partners---usually destination marketing organizations for the multi-billion dollar hospitality industry---such as Visit San Antonio. A panel of industry professionals chose Uminski for the top award from among nominees who are local ambassadors in their area programs.

Well-known to Visit San Antonio leadership in both the community and on campus as an educator, singer, marathon runner and member of various community association boards and committees, Uminski promoted the Riverwalk and raised funds as two-time Riverwalk Prince of the Fiesta royal court (2015-2016). According to the June 16 institute release A Prince Becomes a San Antonio CTA Star - A San Antonio, Texas, hospitality professor earns the International CTA of the Year Award for 2017 “David is clearly committed to his local hospitality industry and CTA program,” says John Marks, a selection panelist for the International Award, and past president & CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. “He is a role model and mentor through his work as a hospitality instructor at St. Philip’s College. Additionally, through his deeds, he inspires and exemplifies that hospitality is the heart and soul of San Antonio.”

Nearly 300 students have earned nationally-portable Certified Tourism Ambassador credentials under the tutelage of college hospitality faculty members David Varelans, Ruben Luna and Uminski since 2014 when the college's partnership in the CTA Ambassador Program of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council began as San Antonio's version of an 11-year-old national professional development program. Roughly 300 of the city’s 1,600 credential holders are alumni of St. Philip’s College, and more than 100 were taught in the college classes of Uminski. Accredited and licensed through the institute, the program for front line hospitality workers stimulates local economies by mobilizing this certified workforce toward transforming guest encounters into positive experiences that lead to those guests returning at some points in the future. Upon completion of all program requirements, approximately 50 St. Philip's College students are awarded the CTA designation annually, and those students may use the professional acronym CTA behind their names and on their resumes, Uminski explained.

“The award is significant. For our students and alumni, it’s validation they earned or will earn portable CTA certification they can use at work after fully investing to study with the best faculty team in our industry,” said Chef Thornton. “For David, a team thank you for continuously improving your capacity to serve, bringing the hard-earned award and visibility to the St. Philip’s College, Visit San Antonio, CTA and Tourism Ambassador Institute brands.”

The criteria for Certified Tourism Ambassador of the Year status includes exceeding customer expectations, knowledge of the region, standing out among peers and support of both the Certified Tourism Ambassador and local tourism industry brands. Visit San Antonio is a nonprofit business that serves as the sales and marketing arm of San Antonio as a leading leisure and meetings destination. San Antonio welcomes 20.9 million overnight leisure visitors annually. Hospitality is one of the top five industries in the city, contributing $13.6 billion into the local economy and employing more than 130,000. St. Philip's College students and alumni have been partners in the industry's success and continuous improvement for more than 100 years. Find details at

CAPTION (courtesy image): A highlight of the May 3 City Council meeting where members of the city’s tourism and hospitality industry leaders were recognized for leadership and continuous performance improvement was a photo opportunity with St. Philip's College Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) credential holders (from left) Victoria Lozado Romero, Dolores Toepperwein, Sierra Rodriguez, Manuel De Leon, David Uminski, Christina Garcia, Nicolo Dannemiller, Shawn Burge, Philip Morgan. Romero, Toepperwein, Rodriguez, De Leon, Garcia, Dannemiller, Burge and Morgan are students of college alumnus and hotel management faculty member David Uminski (in bow tie at center right). Uminski is recent past Riverwalk Prince (2015, 2016), recipient of both Visit San Antonio’s 2017 CTA of the Year award and the Tourism Ambassador Institute’s 2017 International CTA of the Year award.