Alanna Olah, Instructor in Charge of SPC’s Hospitality and Tourism Program, is not a veteran herself. But she has a strong belief that veterans are some of society’s most important assets – and should be treated as such. That belief motivates her work with Vets2Success, an organization that trains struggling vets and their spouses for jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry. Her dedication to this cause has made her the Business community’s designee for Outstanding Community Educator.
Olah works with Vets2Success to train veterans to be chefs, bakers, brewers, and to grow food. She teaches the veterans, work with them in the kitchen, and provides operational support. She and other volunteers then work with the veterans to find jobs with employers who care about supporting them with living wages of at least $14 per hour.
With hospitality and tourism being the number one industry in Pinellas County, Olah believes that our community benefits from this program: Employers need great workers, and veterans need great jobs. She says SPC students also learn a lot through volunteering and fulfilling the service learning requirements that she builds into her courses.
Olah has 23 years of experience in the hospitality field, mainly in hotels, resorts and restaurants. She started teaching courses in 2011, and earned a master’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism in 2012 from Rosen College of Hospitality Management. She became a Clinical Assistant Professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before relocating to teach at SPC in 2017.
Though honored to be recognized for community engagement, Olah says that she’s not a hero – but the veterans of the United States Military certainly are.
“Many of the veterans in our program just need someone to believe in them,” she said. “They are incredible. I wish more people realized the value that veterans can bring to the workforce: they are loyal, devoted, and work hard.”