By Bhuvan G M
The 11th batch of Apeejay Institute of Hospitality graduated yesterday evening in an hour long virtual ceremony. 59 B.Sc Hospitality Studies students, 37 young men and 22 young women graduated this year and joined our robust alumni of 318 so far who have passed out from the portals of AIH since the first graduating batch in 2010.
We had already conducted three online rehearsals to ensure that this first of a kind event goes well without any glitches and is spectacular. My colleague, Shirish Bokde, Vice Principal of AIH ensured technical and logistical support for the smooth airing of the event. Preparations for this programme began in October 2019, with the first email being sent out to the Board of Governors for the date finalization. This event is generally held in the first week of April along with Governing Council Meeting but this year COVID 19 cast a shadow on the event and in-person graduation ceremony was postponed. Keeping the Government advisories and social distancing in mind, this year’s Graduation Day was decided for August 2020 held virtually as an online convocation. I, my colleagues Mr. Shirish Bokde, Ms.Laxmi Todiwan, Mr.Kapil Kumar, Mr. Somnath and other team members remotely worked together.
As I prepared to present AIH annual report for the academic year 2019-2020 to our large audience, I felt pride and a twinge of sadness. Pride because as a founding Principal, I had a rare privilege, to present the annual report for 11 continuous years! I also felt sadness for my students and AIH Faculty and team – Graduation is one of the most important and momentous occasions in a one’s academic life. The Graduation day is a very special occasion not only for the graduates for whom this ceremony is held and their success celebrated, it is also a special occasion that expresses gratitude to everyone who contributed to their success. The graduates prove that they have learned and are ready to apply that knowledge. As they leave the portals of their institution, they can look back on the work done and see the evidence of great teaching, the new skills learned, and the new passions uncovered. Everyone sits back and savours the long-awaited moment to celebrate and pay tribute to the hard work and efforts of the new graduates.This day bring in a sense of achievement and pride to the students, parents, teachers and well wishers. Also those who worked hard and supported all along to see that the child succeeds in life.
Having seen the delight, bonhomie, hope and happiness in all AIH graduation days, our team was determined to keep the bar high! Even though a day like today would have me standing on a stage, behind a podium, perhaps in an academical robe and I have to do this today from behind a monitor, my message to my graduating students has been consistent and this year it is without my robes on. The batch of 2020, one of the best batches of 37 boys and 22 girls, secured some of the best placements in the industry so I told them, “This unprecedented phase has brought in a certain element of uncertainty. As a Professor, in my classes, I used to speak on the VUCA world. A world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Now we all are living in this world. Use this precious time to upgrade and reskill. Learn on domains that are beyond your comfort zone. Invest in diversifying skillsets and knowledge. Use the internet to your advantage. Reflect, Review and Reinvent yourself. Get ready for an exciting career a few months from now. My best wishes are always with you. Be connected to your alma mater.“
The sadness I had felt at the start of the first online Graduation Day dissipated in the one hour of seing that AIH did manage to make Graduation Day special for everyone! At the end of a successful first online convocation, I felt a sense of satisfaction at being part of an Anything but Ordinary event – the first in my own career, a first in professional lives of all attendees, faculty, for the students – brought upon us owing to the restrictions placed on gatherings due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Mrs.Shirin Paul, Chairperson Emeritus, Apeejay Surrendra Group, presided over the function and addressed the students.
Ms.Priya Paul joined her in conferring the Jit Paul and Surrendra Paul Gold Medals and the BSc Course Completion Certificates. Jit Paul Gold Medal is awarded to the student for being an all-rounder with best attitude and values . Surrendra Paul Gold Medal is awarded to the student for academic excellence. The Gold Medalists are selected by the team of heads of the departments by awarding points on different criteria like academic performance over the three years, participation in co curricular activities, attendance, overall attitude and values demonstrated, initiative and contributions to the institution as well as the community.The top most scores are considered for this award.The recommendations are validated by Principal, Managing Director and Chairperson of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels. The 2020 winners are :-
Governing Council Members, Mr.Vijay Dewan, Managing Director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd and Dr Harsha Mehta grace this occasion.All 59 students took the college oath narrated by Ms.Laxmi Todiwan, Master of Ceremonies and the one hour programme concluded with a National Anthem. Parents, Invitees and current BSc students all together we were about 400 plus logged into this ceremony and many more were watching on Facebook Live – www.facebook.com/aihnavimumbai
The Apeejay Institute of Hospitality was established in the year 2007, under the aegis of Apeejay Education Trust. I share with great fondness pictures of our very first graduation day in 2010 and our very first Graduate ! The second picture is from our graduation ceremony from 2018-2019.
We are located at CBD Belapur and shares our premises with The Park Navi Mumbai. An initiative of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd. that operates its collection of Luxury Boutique hotels in India, AIH offers a 3 years Bachelor’s Degree program in Hospitality Studies affiliated to the University of Mumbai, which is recognized by the Government of Maharashtra and University Grants Commission. AIH also offers IATA Foundation in Travel and Tourism Diploma from IATA, Canada.
AIH is also the centre of learning for Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, the group’s Management Training Programme, Executive Training Programmes, Professional Development Programmes, as well as consultancy projects for the hospitality industry are some of AIH’s additional core activities. Not only academics but extracurricular activities are also given equal impetus. Students have the advantage of getting hands-on operational training at The Park, Navi Mumbai, doing their internship from any of the Park properties or associated organizations and take up careers with the Park Hotels as well as other hotels.
Bhuvan G M is Professor and Principal, Apeejay Institute of Hospitality