A high-flying student and shining light at Spalding’s Sir John Gleed School is set to deliver five-star service after winning a top college award.
Sophie Rodgers (18) was recognised for her work in Hospitality and Catering studies at New College Stamford, one of only eight students to receive an award out of more than 2,000 young people entered by the college.
Former head girl at Sir John Gleed School, Sophie is now going onto a management development programme with the Concord Hotels group.
Sophie said: “It was such a surprise to be on the awards shortlist because we’d had a small event at the college where I was nominated for my coursework.
“I wasn’t even planning to go to the awards because I thought I wouldn’t get anything.
“But I went with my parents, we saw all the nominees come up on the screen and they mentioned the hotel management course.
It would have been enough for me to be happy with just my qualifications but then to be recognised by my course tutors was a bonusSophie Rodgers (18), of Spalding, former Head Girl at Sir John Gleed School, ex-hospitality and catering student at New College Stamford
“That was when I realised that I’d been recognised by my tutors.”
Before college, Sophie’s ambition was to be a pastry chef until she turned to the idea of working with people.
“I discovered what front-of-house and waitering was and fell in love with it,” Sophie said.
“Then I realised that I wanted to do something in customer service because I enjoy interacting with people.”
Sophie started working as a kitchen assistant at the age of 14, going on to work at Amici’s Italian Restaurant in Spalding for a year and then a four-week work experience placement at the William Cecil Hotel in Stamford where she was later offered a summer job.
“I was really eager to start working, so I did waitressing at events and washing up dishes as a kitchen assistant,” Sophie said.
“But I wanted to do front-of-house and when I worked at Amici’s Restaurant, I absolutely loved it because I learned so many skills that were so valuable.”
The Concord Hotels Management Development Programme was established in 1968 and since then, more than 1,100 students have successfully gone on to take up senior roles in the hotel and hospitality industry.
Sophie said: “It’s a two-year course where you spend six months each at four hotels, learning kitchen, front office, restaurant and beverage service.
“But I’ve also got the chance of doing other qualifications on top of the course.
“Ultimately, I want to go as high up in hotel management as possible and get as far as I can in the industry.
“I’d like to think that within the next five years, I’d be in some sort of management role after learning so many skills at school and college that transfer to customer service.
“I’ve loved my two years at New College Stamford and I’m happy with what I’ve achieved there.
“It would have been enough for me to be happy with just my qualifications but then to be recognised by my course tutors was a bonus.
“However, Sir John Gleed School is responsible for a lot as it is where I learned so many skills that can be transferred into customer service,” Sophie said.
“People can say what they want about the school but it did well by me.”
Alison Grant, chairman of governors at New College Stamford, said: “The Student Awards ceremony wasn’t only a celebration of achievement and success, but a showcase of determination and commitment to making a mark on the world that will support the futures of our students for the rest of their lives.
“Building a successful career is much more than qualifications and all of our students have shown they have what it takes to progress their fantastic achievements to the next steps in the exciting journeys that started at New College Stamford.”