June 19, 2020

Virtual Exchange Helps Alumna Realize Her Career Goals


Photo of Cassandra Pantel courtesy of The Stevens Initiative.
In spring 2019, Cassandra Pantel participated in the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge, a virtual exchange program implemented by IREX. This virtual exchange connected groups of undergraduate students at U.S. community colleges with students in Jordan to study how hospitality and tourism intersect with sustainability.

During this 10-week virtual exchange, 15 binational teams and more than 315 students investigated the impact of global hospitality and tourism issues in their local communities, collaborated with team members in another country, and developed sustainable business concepts in response to a challenge prompt inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Cassandra’s team was one of three finalists to present their concept at an in-person summit in Washington, D.C., where they were selected as the overall winner of the challenge.

After graduating from Kirkwood Community College last spring, Cassandra began a role at Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery located in Swisher, Iowa, where she is in charge of the day-to-day operations behind the bar. A year after her program, Cassandra continues to use the skills she developed during her virtual exchange every day.

Sharing an example of sustainable practices used at her job, she points out, “All of our spent grain from distilling is given to a local farmer to feed their livestock. This not only helps the environment, but also in turn helps feed families.” In addition to knowledge about sustainability practices, other skills developed during her program contribute to her career success, including improved communication, project and event planning, business concept development, collaboration, and teamwork.

This story was originally published on the Stevens Initiative website, where you can continue reading more about Cassandra's story.

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