September 25, 2023

Faculty spotlight: Q and A with Mollie Rohrbaugh

3 min read

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Choosing a career is one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make in your life, but it can also be one of the most exciting.

At Kansas State University Olathe, we want to be there for you no matter the current stage of your academic career. Whether you’ve just wrapped up a program at a community college and you’re looking for your next steps or you’re returning to college after spending time in the workforce, our hospitality management degree completion program is designed to help you finish your degree while receiving the support you need to be successful. 

We sat down with Mollie Rorhbaugh to talk about hospitality management. Rorhbaugh is a professor of practice and an advisor to students in the Kansas City-based hospitality management program. With years of industry experience, she understands exactly what it’s like to work in the hospitality profession — and how students can be successful. 

What is the hospitality management degree completion program at K-State Olathe? 

We are designed as a degree completion program, so we don’t have anyone who comes in right out of high school. We have two basic groups of students. We have those who come through community college and are geographically tied to the area or want to be here. We also have students who may have attended college years ago. They may have decided not to complete their program at that time, but they’re ready now. No matter what a student’s educational background might be, there’s a place for them in our program, which is designed to help students complete their degrees no matter their stage of life. 

What led you to hospitality management? 

During my sophomore year of high school, I knew I was going to major in hospitality management. There are three reasons I really love the hospitality management industry. 

First, I love hosting. I love making people feel comfortable. I love inviting people into my space and anticipating their needs. I love thinking, “Oh, you love coffee, but you always want milk in it. Let me make sure that I have the kind of milk that you like.” 

The second thing I appreciate is the variety. I didn’t want a job where every day was the same, and I sat looking at spreadsheets for forty hours. I could do it, but I probably wouldn’t be happy. 

I also always wanted the opportunity to travel. My family didn’t travel a lot as a kid. It simply wasn’t feasible. You get that kind of dual ability in hospitality. If you work for a big company, you also get travel discounts, which makes it easier for you to travel. The other thing is that when you go to work, you’re basically traveling every day because you meet people from all over the world, so you experience their cultures and hear their stories. 

What’s something most people don’t know about the hospitality industry? 

You know, I would say how rewarding it is. In hospitality, you tend to have weird hours. That’s just part of the bargain. Long hours happen, and you have days where you’re running around like crazy. Everything might get wild, but then you look back at the end of the day and you’re think, “We made it.” It’s really satisfying. You also develop incredible bonds with the people you’re working with. These are the people you spend holidays with and who support you throughout the journey.  

Who should pursue a career in hospitality management? 

Someone who is really good at problem-solving. You have to think on your feet and make decisions. You also need a heart for people and a heart for business. I always say that hospitality is a business degree with a people lens. In our courses, we cover a lot of business aspects and discuss how to manage budgets and people, but if you want to go into hospitality management, you also need a heart to serve and a desire to make people happy. 

How does K-State Olathe support hospitality management students? 

Our program is so unique and small that every single person gets a white glove experience. I was a first-generation college student, so I understand it might take some extra guidance when it comes to how to apply for the FAFSA and understanding what that is. It’s so important for students to have someone who is designated to advocate for them as they progress through their programs. I’m really passionate about the accessibility of education and working with students to find ways to complete their programs affordably.

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Launch your hospitality management journey

If you're ready to learn more about our hospitality management degree completion program, reach out today. Our team would love the opportunity to talk with you about how we can support you on your journey. Click below to connect with one of our student success coaches, register for a free webinar or discover more about our program.

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