Merced College offering free academy to prepare students for hospitality industry careers

Laurie Skrivan/TNS
·2 min read

Merced College’s Hospitality Career Academy, soon to launch its second installment after a successful first season last fall, is rolling out new offerings to students in the upcoming session.

According to a campus news release, the 12-week program is free, and starts on Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. at the Mainzer in Downtown Merced.

Students in the program can learn valuable skills in the hospitality industry, including how to make craft cocktails, conflict resolution, customer service and even a food safety course, which is new to the program for the second cohort.

The food safety class, called the ServSafe Manager Certification, is marketed as “an essential step for anyone looking to build a career in hospitality,” according to a press release from Merced College. Also new this year is a cocktail course, taught by Billy Pedrozo, the bartender at popular Merced restaurant Bella Luna.

The cocktail course will cover bar setup, safety and sanitation, as well as mixing cocktails and mocktails.

“This program is why community colleges exist – to help students of all ages and abilities take control of their lives and build a foundation for new careers,” Chris Vitelli, Merced College’s president, said in the release. “I’m excited for the future of not only our students, but the local businesses and customers who will benefit from their advanced skills in these areas.”

Students in the program will receive 48 hours of training in communication, customer service, team building, conflict management, unconscious bias and workplace attitudes. Students participate in a “Community Interview Day” at the end of the 12-week program, where they can meet with potential employers in the hospitality industry, ask questions and apply for open positions.

Students are also set up to continue their education, like in Merced College’s culinary management program.

“For anyone considering applying for jobs in the hospitality sector, which is growing rapidly in the Merced area, this academy is an absolute no-brainer,” said Jonae Pistoresi, a professor at Merced College. “Graduates from this program will be better prepared for those jobs, better prepared for their job interviews and better prepared to handle delicate situations in every aspect of their lives.”

To apply to the Hospitality Career Academy or for more information, contact Dorota Mimms at or call 209-386-6773.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting