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Pete Kumar

February 2015

Puneet “Pete” Kumar played high school football in Allentown, Pennsylvania, before walking onto the team at East Stroudsburg University, where he played guard for two seasons.

“But at one point the body just started to give up,” Kumar said.

With his football career prematurely over, Kumar knew he ultimately wanted a career in hospitality, so he began searching for reputable programs. That is when he discovered the Penn State School of Hospitality Management (SHM).

“I researched the hospitality management field and decided Penn State was the right choice for me,” Kumar said.

More than 4,500 Penn State students are enrolled in the College of Health and Human Development (HHD) studying a wide-array of fields, each committed to the concept of improving the quality of life for others. Kumar, who found a home in SHM, is one of those HHD students, and this is his story.

Kumar was attracted to hospitality management because within the discipline there are a plethora of career opportunities, meaning he could never get bored. From hotel room operations to human resources to accounting to real estate, Kumar was drawn to the field’s diversity.

“There are multiple career paths you can follow. If I get tired of working in one area I can always transfer into another,” Kumar said.

Since enrolling at Penn State, Kumar has immersed himself in hospitality by attending SHM coordinated events, such as a tour at the Hilton Worldwide Headquarters, and by participating in a legislative action summit in Washington, D.C. where he met with industry lobbyists and members of Congress. At the summit, Kumar had an opportunity to meet with three hospitality CEOs in one day.

“It gives you experience you can’t get in the classroom,” Kumar said. “You learn about their career paths and how they ended up where they are and what you need to do if you want to be come a CEO one day.”

Kumar has also gained industry experience with an internship at The Westin, Jersey City, New Jersey, and an externship with the W hotel in Times Square.

Kumar is also involved in campus organizations. He’s president of Hospitality Finance and Technology Professionals and treasurer of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

People are noticing Kumar’s passion for the field. Kumar is the recipient of several scholarships, including from Hyatt and Hilton corporations. He also received scholarships from the College, including the McCann Family Scholarship in Hospitality Management, which recognizes outstanding students in the HM 482 Real Estate course, the Marie Schjerbech Evans Trustee Matching Scholarship. Additionally, he is the recipient of the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Recognition for Student in Excellence Award.

Following graduation, Kumar plans to work in hotel operations before attending graduate school, possibly with a real estate emphasis.

“I believe I’m ready to go and start in the hospitality industry. Penn State prepares students very well and are respected in the industry,” Kumar said. “We have the resources and skills we need when we graduate, which exceeds other hospitality programs.”

In addition to SHM, there are a variety of areas for students to study within HHD through the Departments of Biobehavioral Health, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Health Policy and Administration, Human Development and Family Studies, Kinesiology, Nutritional Sciences, and Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. Learn more about HHD.