First Person Account of Steven Cabreja speaking at Sleepy Hollow High School on January 13, as part of a three-member panel of service industry professionals.
As a 2010 graduate of Sleepy Hollow High School, I was pleased to return on January 13th, to speak as a member of the “Power Lunch Career Panel.” I began by asking for a show of hands from those who knew what career they wanted to pursue and those who didn’t. It is important for our high school students to know that it is okay to not know what you want to do. I’m not the type of person who likes to talk about himself and even then get personal, but at that very moment I felt as if I had an obligation and duty to share my personal experience with the group.
I described how my mom was diagnosed with cancer while I was still in high school and how much this affected me. I had always been a good student, but then I struggled to keep up with my school work as I took on extra responsibilities being the “man of the house” and becoming a college student at Pace University. But it was in my second year at Pace University that I really floundered, as my mom had a recurrence of the cancer, and my grades began to significantly drop. I suddenly found myself on academic probation.
My life turned around when I took a job as a Guest Service Agent at Tarrytown House on the Hudson. There, for the first time, I was told “you have a lot of potential.” Those words, spoken by my General Manager Joe Santore, set me on a different course and with a vision to succeed in life and make my mother proud. With a new-found confidence, I was able to re-focus on my studies and successfully graduated with a Bachelor’s in Management and with a concentration in Hospitality in May 2015. Upon graduating, the Tarrytown House Estate offered me a job as the Manager-in-Training of the entire estate which is where and when I knew my career was just beginning. At Tarrytown House, I worked hard, and was exposed to every area from running the restaurant and conference center, from busboy, to bellman, to guest reception, to conference organizer and the list goes on. I made the most of this opportunity to learn the business, and hopefully will be advancing my career within the Food and Beverage department.
I’m glad I had the chance to share my story with other Sleepy Hollow students, and to remind people what a difference encouraging words, opportunities, and hard work can make in a young person’s life, as they did in mine.
The Power Lunch Career Panel Series is co-sponsored by Sleepy Hollow High School Guidance Department, Kids’ Club of Tarrytown & Sleepy Hollow, and Viana Pizza.