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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Sarah Locke poses for a photo in a garden.

USC Hospitality Management student wins life-changing scholarship

University of South Carolina hospitality management student Sarah Locke has won the Statler Foundation’s $25,000 Scholarship of Excellence. Locke is the fourth University of South Carolina student to win the prestigious scholarship, underscoring the impact of the school’s highly ranked hospitality management degree program.

Locke plans to follow her mother’s footsteps in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry, and her stellar performance as a student and as a leader outside the classroom has established her as a rising star.

She was nominated by faculty members in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management to apply for the competitive scholarship, awarded annually to the best and brightest hospitality management students from all over the United States.

"The Statler Foundation has been a great partner and has provided excellent students the opportunity to receive funding in their studies," says Robin DiPietro, director of the University of South Carolina’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.  "This has allowed students the chance to focus on what is important - working hard, getting experience in the industry, and following their dreams."

Locke was drawn to hospitality from an early age, thanks to her mother's work in the industry with HelmsBriscoe.

"When I was younger, I was very fortunate to go on family vacations due to my mom being in the business. I feel very fortunate that part of her career gave me such wonderful opportunities to travel with my family," Locke says.

When it came time to choose a college, the Massachusetts native knew she wanted to pursue hospitality, and when she visited South Carolina, the fit was perfect.

"I remember just coming onto the campus and feeling so comfortable and walking into the Horseshoe and thinking, 'This is like what you’d see in a movie,'" she says. "But the biggest part of why I chose USC was my College of HRSM tour with Collin Crick. It felt like it was being catered to my needs and I could tell that it was a good program and I would fit in."

Locke has taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to her as a student in a program ranked among the top 10 in the nation. She has served in the HRSM Leadership Program, with the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management Event Planners Club student organization and as a leader in her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma.

She studied abroad in Switzerland as a junior and has interned with Graduate Hotels and with Marriott, as well as working as an administrative assistant with HelmsBriscoe, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

"Sarah is an outstanding student who will go far in her career," says DiPietro. "As a matter of fact, I look forward to seeing Sarah as the CEO of a major hospitality organization or the owner of her own business in the next 5-10 years."

Locke will graduate in May 2023, and when asked about her dream job, says, "I definitely don’t want to limit myself. If I could do everything, I would."

She says a management training role with a luxury property is likely her next step, with a bright future and endless options ahead.

"Sarah is outstanding and the Statler Scholarship of Excellence is a great match for her excellent academic achievements and her industry experience," DiPietro says. "Thank you to Sarah for making us so proud and to the Statler Foundation for making this happen."

More about The Statler Foundation

The Statler Foundation is a private foundation that supports students and programs in the hospitality industry. It was created in 1934 based on instructions left by hotelier Ellsworth M. Statler in his will. Statler’s widow, Alice Seidler Statler, served as chair of the foundation’s board of trustees for nearly 40 years.

The foundation continues the legacy of the Statlers by awarding more than $1,000,000 each year in grants and scholarships, including funding study abroad opportunities for students who would otherwise never have the chance to explore other cultures. The Scholarship of Excellence program rewards the best and brightest students from all over the United States.


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