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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: BREYONNA RAVENEL CHOSEN TO PARTICIPATE IN TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

By: Clafin University

Breyonna Ravenel, a junior business administration major from Charleston, S.C. has been selected to participate in Explore Charleston’s Intern Cultural Enrichment Program (ICEP). This initiative connects underrepresented minority students, most from historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs), with world-class internship opportunities in the Charleston area travel and hospitality industry. Ravenel will serves as an intern at Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, S.C. 

ICEP includes a ten-week leadership development program that complements the paid internships. Students participate in a weekly curriculum led by Explore Charleston that introduces them to the community and local culture, fosters interaction with civic and business leaders, cultivates peer relationships, and develops business and communication skills to support personal and professional growth.

“We’ve maintained a commitment to raising awareness and taking action for diversity, equity and inclusion through our Heart for Hospitality initiative. The growth of ICEP represents meaningful progress toward achieving one of our strategic goals: encouraging opportunities to recruit and develop individuals from diverse backgrounds into tourism and hospitality. Our industry should reflect the community, but that doesn’t mean employees and future leaders have to be from the Lowcountry,” said Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston.

The ICEP concept originated in 2020 with support from Explore Charleston’s Board of Governors and insight from the Heart for Hospitality Steering Committee. Since then, Explore Charleston has worked continuously to build relationships with HBCUs and other universities, recruit candidates, and identify local travel industry partners interested in hosting interns.

The ICEP class of 2022 includes 14 students from 10 universities who are completing internships with ten area employers.

Hilton-Embassy Suites Charleston Harbor and Embassy Suites Historic District, Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront/Downtown, and Explore Charleston join an existing lineup of employers including The Charleston Place, Charleston County Aviation Authority, Charlestowne Hotels, Hotel Bennett, Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Lowcountry Hotels, and Wild Dunes Resort.

There is no cost to the students for participation in ICEP, and Explore Charleston covers housing costs. The ICEP program began with orientation on June 1. The program concludes with a pinning ceremony on August 9 at the Riviera Theater.

As the region’s destination management and marketing organization, Explore Charleston represents ten municipalities across three counties. It seeks to unify and lead the local travel industry in marketing the Charleston area, create overnight visitation, and support responsible development through travel and tourism strategies.

Heart for Hospitality was developed in 2018 to formalize Explore Charleston’s ongoing efforts to advance the Lowcountry by promoting, informing and advocating inclusion and engagement in the travel and hospitality industry.