Stephanie Mason/ Staff Writer
While February may mean red hearts and boxes of chocolates for some, it means hard-work, volunteer hours and working with celebrity chefs for others.
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is approaching and thousands of students from the University work the event every year and this year is no exception.
Returning for his third year working at the festival, Marlon Edwards, junior in hospitality management, said, “I’ve done a little bit of everything [at SOBEWFF].”
Although he has worked at SOBEWFF in the past, it is Edwards’ first year working at the Fun & Fit event.
“I picked this particular event because…[it’s] Fun and Fit. Health is very important to me right now so I would definitely love to impact the young generation at that age so they can understand that being healthy doesn’t always have to be like ‘ugh,’” said Edwards. “It can be fun as well.”
Another student returning to work at SOBEWFF, Santiago Cardona, senior in hospitality management, said he worked at the festival the previous year with a culinary position and worked over 50 hours.
“I enjoyed it so much that I’m willing to do it again. It was a lot of work but I felt like it was worth it,” said Cardona.
“You get to meet a lot of people, you make a lot of connections…You meet people who can write recommendations for you, people that could offer you jobs. You get to go to the events for free, they’re like 300 dollar events. There’s so much you’re getting out of it, that there’s no reason for you to not want to put in the hours,” Cardona said.
Lauren Keller, senior in hospitality management, is working at SOBEWFF for the second time this year. When speaking about her previous year working at SOBEWFF, Keller said, “It was fun because I met a lot of friends and made connections and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
However, not all students are returners. Rebecca Merek, freshman in hospitality management, said it is going to be her first time working at SOBEWFF.
When speaking about her job at the event, logistics, Merek said she is looking forward to “the benefits and just the experience. I’ve never had a job before so I really wanted to gain the experience.”
Rather than just working the standard positions at SOBEWFF, a select number of students are also chosen for the role of coordinators for certain events.
Demi Marroquin, senior in hospitality management, is a coordinator this year for the events: Moët Hennessy’s The Q, Burger Bash, A Red Hot Night: Presented by Target, and Guy Fieri’s Roadshow & Reggae with Ziggy Marley.
Marroquin has been working at SOBEWFF since her sophomore year at the University and started working as a coordinator for the event this past October.
“I started off for the experience because I want to go into events. My internships have always been in events, so I thought it would be a good hands-on experience,” said Marroquin. “It’s a lot of fun too. I love working with students.”
Taekesha Donovan, a senior in hospitality management, also started working for SOBEWFF as a coordinator in October. Donovan was previously a student volunteer for SOBEWFF for two years and will be working as a coordinator for the Fun & Fit event this year.
Sharing why she wanted to be a coordinator, Donovan said, “What motivated me is because I’m such a big ‘foodie’ and I love Food Network and I also love the networking experience and, along with Demi, I love the events as well.”
With some years of experience under their belt, Marroquin and Donovan gave advice for students new to working at SOBEWFF.
“Have fun and use the opportunity wisely to network and learn things,” said Donovan.
Marroquin said her advice would be to, “Stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes, and sunscreen, lots of sunscreen and just to have fun and enjoy it; it passes by so fast.”