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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Meghan Penske poses for a photo in a garden.

USC College of HRSM student wins Statler Foundation Scholarship of Excellence

University of South Carolina student Meghan Penske has won the Statler Foundation's $25,000 Scholarship of Excellence. This is the fifth consecutive year that a student from USC's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has won the prestigious national award.

Penske was nominated by faculty members for the competitive scholarship, awarded annually to the best and brightest hospitality management students from all over the United States.

"I was speechless for so long and I'm still trying to process it because I honestly was not expecting it. I'm just so grateful for this opportunity," Penske says about the good news. "It’s helping me pay for college this year and giving my parents a little reprieve. My family has helped me so much along the way."

A native of Port Jefferson, New York, Penske is pursuing a bachelor's degree in hospitality management and a master's degree in international hospitality and tourism management through the accelerated bachelor's/master's degree program offered by USC. She is on track to complete both degrees by May 2026, and plans to pursue a career in the hotel industry and/or event planning.

Penske says both USC in general and her major in particular have been perfect fits. "I love the campus. It just felt like home immediately. I had researched the hospitality management major before I came and then when I got here and especially when I had my first class with Dr. K, I knew it was perfect."

Marketa Kubickova headshot
Associate Professor Marketa Kubickova, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

"Dr. K" is USC School of Hospitality and Tourism Management associate professor Marketa Kubickova, who has become a mentor and role model to Penske and nominated her for the Statler Foundation scholarship.

In addition to having supportive faculty, Penske has gained real world experience while in college and has already worked at several hotels across the country. She is currently the lead events intern at the South Carolina Governor's Mansion.

"It's been the most amazing experience, seeing the event side of the hospitality industry. It's a totally different side than the hotels or bed and breakfasts I'm used to," she says.

Penske is also in her second term of service as president of the USC student chapter of the Restaurant and Lodging Association. 

"We are honored to have one of our top students receive this scholarship from the Statler Foundation," says Matthew Brown, interim director of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. "The foundation has been a great partner and has supported the School in many ways. This scholarship affords Meghan the opportunity to finish out her time at Carolina while focusing on her studies and taking advantage of experiential opportunities provided."

More about The Statler Foundation

The Statler Foundation logo, Life is Service, Est. 1934

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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