Maui’s Erickson Honored With National Tourism Alumni Award
By Wendy Osher
A Lahaina man will receive national honors for his career success following graduation from the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism (AOHT) program on Maui.
Matthew Erickson, is one of five people across the nation who will be honored by the National Academy Foundation as a 2011 Alumni Honoree. He will be recognized for his tourism industry success during an awards banquet on July 18 in San Francisco, CA.
Erickson graduated from the AOHT program at Lahainaluna High School in 1996, and credits the program for instilling in him the concept of kuleana or responsibility.
“It has been my privilege to have been a part of the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism; and the kuleana that came with my involvement has taken me to where I am today,” said Erickson.
Upon graduating from high school, Erickson pursued his post-secondary education at the Western International University in Phoenix, AZ, where he earned an Associate of Arts degree in Business in 2007.
Two years later, through his participation in the Lahaina Hawaiian Civic Club, Erickson joined in introducing a Resolution to the State Legislature, relaying the importance of Host culture awareness to tourism in Hawaii.
Erickson is currently employed at the Old Lahaina Lu’au, where he is credited as being a driving force for the company’s community initiatives. The company recently received the coveted service award from a local Rotary Club, is a six-time recipient of the Hawai’i Visitors & Convention Bureau’s “Keep it Hawai’i” Award, and repeat winner of the ‘Aipono Awards.
“Matthew’s involvement with the Maui AOHT has allowed him to grow and flourish into the strong, independent, philanthropic and dedicated leader — who has made a difference in Hawaii,” said Carol Reimann who nominated Erickson. Reimann serves as Co-chair of the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism and Executive Director for the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association.
Erickson is also an active member of the Friends of Moku`ula, and the Lahainaluna High School Foundation. He served on the AOHT Board of Directos on Maui, speaks regularly to high school students in the program, and contributes to the program’s student conference and career fair each year.
“He has elevated the AOHT experience to a whole new level, incorporating skills learned through the Academy into his daily work routine, and he still finds time to give back to his community and Lahainaluna High School, his alma mater. It has been a pleasure watching him grow and achieve. We expect nothing but more great things from Matt in the future,” said Reimann.
The first AOHT academy in Hawaii began on Maui in the early 1990’s at Lahainaluna High School, funded by a one-time donation from the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. Because of its success, Maui High School and Baldwin joined the program in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Today, there are approximately 200 students enrolled in the program on Maui.
The AOHT prepares students for post-secondary education and careers through a theme-based, contextualized curriculum approach. It provides students with knowledge and skills for a career in one of the world’s largest service industries. The curriculum takes an in-depth look at all aspects of tourism and hospitality, including coursework in business, geography, hospitality, and economics.
The Maui Hotel & Lodging Association provides scholarship funding as well as administrative and program support for the AOHT.