Coordinating events, promoting Midland and loving every minute of it!
"I love being able to interact with all sorts of different people, and the hotel industry is FULL of surprises," said Kathryn Zimmerhanzel with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye.
For the past year, the 23-year-old sales and events coordinator at the Marriott Courtyard in Midland has been organizing everything from baby showers to memorial services at the hotel.
Zimmerhanzel explained, "Most people associate Midland hotels simply with out-of-town business travelers, but I've assisted lots of local people with weddings, Quinceañeras, conferences and even beauty pageants. It's never a dull moment around here, and I love it!"
After college graduation, Zimmerhanzel tried her hand at various jobs, but said she has finally found her niche and is using the skills she acquired and enhanced while attending Midland College (MC) and Texas Tech University (TTU).
"I was so lucky to be able to start college at MC," said Zimmerhanzel. "The classes are small, and the instructors really care about their students!"
Zimmerhanzel fondly recalled MC Assistant Professor of Government Dr. Sondra Richards and History Professor Dr. Todd Houck when she though back upon her days at Midland College. She also remembered her association with the Baptist Student Ministries and said that her Legacy Scholarship volunteer work in the gift shop at Midland Memorial Hospital helped to strengthen her interpersonal skills, which have proven to be valuable in her current position. In addition to helping Zimmerhanzel get a successful start on her higher education pursuits, Midland College is also where she met great friends, one of whom later became her roommate while she was attending TTU.
Zimmerhanzel advised, "If there is one thing I would recommend to people starting college, it would be to get involved in extracurricular activities and organizations. It's a great opportunity to meet people, get some valuable career skills and, not to mention, have FUN!"
She said that the only negative aspect of her experience at Midland College was the online economics course that she took during the winterim semester.
"I am definitely one of those people who need human interaction during a class!" laughed Zimmerhanzel. "At the time an online course sounded like a good idea, but it was difficult, and I missed the face-to-face contact. Needless to say, that was my first and last online college course!"
After successfully graduating with an associate degree from Midland College in 2008, Zimmerhanzel transferred to Texas Tech, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies in 2010. While attending MC and later TTU, she worked at various part-time jobs, one of which was the Texas Tech recruiting office.
Zimmerhanzel stated, "It was while I was helping students with freshman orientation at Tech that I truly realized how fortunate I was to have attended Midland College. Once I got to Texas Tech, I already knew how to register for classes and had developed proper studying habits. The freshmen students I assisted at Tech were really struggling with those things, and unlike Midland College, the Texas Tech classes are so big and there are so many students that it is easy to get 'lost in the shuffle.'"
Zimmerhanzel explained that another positive aspect of Midland College is the Legacy Scholarship: "My twin sister and I both attended Midland College on the Legacy Scholarship, and we also entered the Abell-Hanger Legacy Essay Contest. Each of us won the additional $500 essay award during separate semesters."
Midland's Legacy Scholarship Program is funded by four pioneering Midland families—George and Gladys Abell, Barney and Helen Greathouse, J. Harvey and Harriet Herd and the Clarence Scharbauer Family—who invested their time and resources to help build a community. The financial legacy of these community builders ensures that Midland County high school graduates are able to continue to take advantage of an education at Midland College.
The scholarship requires students to complete 40 hours of community service before entering Midland College and an additional 20 hours each semester that they are attending MC. In exchange for the volunteer hours, students are awarded up to $1,050 per semester!
"That was a great budgetary help for my parents and me," explained Zimmerhanzel. "Then, I also received scholarships while I was at Texas Tech, so I essentially graduated with a bachelor's degree debt free!"
Today, the energetic and attractive Midland native is enjoying her responsibilities in the Permian Basin's busy hotel industry; however, eventually Zimmerhanzel hopes to own her own wedding and event planning business. When she and her husband Michael got married in December of 2010, they decided to put down roots in the Tall City because Kathryn's family is in Midland, and she harbors happy memories of growing up in the area.
The young couple who are proud "dog parents" of Shae, a 5-year-old Pit Bull, and Texas, and 18-month-old Boston Terrier Pub (or "Bug" as the hybrid breed is affectionately known), said they made the right decision to begin their professional careers and married life in Midland.
Zimmerhanzel stated, "Midland is an awesome city, and I enjoy working in an industry where I can promote the area to people who visit. Also, I'm definitely proof that one of the city's greatest strengths is the wonderful education that Midland College provides!"