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This December, Caitlin Marie Barry will represent the College of Human Sciences as the graduation marshal. The hospitality management major from Marlborough, Connecticut, was chosen for her academic excellence and exceptional leadership, citizenship and character. Upon graduation, Barry will start a new position with Sea Island in St. Simon’s, Georgia, as a sommelier in the food and beverage industry. In her own words, she tells us about her Auburn experience.

What made you decide to pursue a bachelor’s of science in hospitality with a focus on event management and a minor in business?

I grew up involved in various community events where my parents both participated in event management and food and beverage. I learned a lot about hospitality, my Irish heritage, the values my parents held and the core aspects that made hospitality events successful. I enjoyed interacting and talking to customers and guests, and I loved seeing the joy on people’s faces at the events. 

In addition to helping with events, I served as the stage manager for my high school’s theater department, finding a calling for leadership and solidifying my love for the hospitality industry.

What did you like best about the program here at Auburn? Why?

The Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management program provided me with the most unique and exclusive opportunities to learn from others in the hospitality industry. Through this program, I worked at the Masters golf tournament multiple times and made various connections that will be valuable in my career. 

The Hospitality Career Fair is where I met the wonderful team at Sea Island. I interned with them for two summers and will begin my career there after graduation. Through the program, I traveled to Oregon and Napa, and enhanced my love and enjoyment for wine and the wine industry, ultimately deciding my career path. I was able to take my introductory sommelier exam through the school with the top professionals in the field. 

This program welcomed a girl from Connecticut who did not know anyone on this campus with open arms and in turn, I am leaving with so many lifelong friendships, strong relationships with faculty and staff in the department and the confidence to say I embraced every opportunity that was available.

What’s next for you and your career?

I’m excited to start my position with Sea Island in St. Simon’s, Georgia, as a sommelier. I will continue my wine education by pursuing the sommelier certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as the Certified Specialist of Wine certification with the Society of Wine Educators.

My career goal is to be a beverage director of either a resort or a country club. Through my internships and my executive position held on campus, leadership roles feel natural to me. I enjoy the wine and beverage aspects of the food and beverage industry and this segment of the hospitality industry.

Looking back on your time at Auburn, how was it for you? Would you do anything differently if you had the chance?

I would not trade my time at Auburn for the world. I grew as a student, an individual and a career-driven woman. I learned to make mistakes, what was important to me, my values and ultimately that things will work out in the end. I dealt with a lot personally, academically and professionally during my time at Auburn but my peers, professors and mentors supported me and guided me during both the highs and the lows.