Monday, January 4, 2010

Proud student of school of hospitality

First-year Centennial College student Megan Oates was one of the privileged and proud Canadians to run with the Olympic torch as the sacred flame wound its way through Ontario to Toronto recently. She belongs to the school of hospitality.

Oates was handed the torch at 5:45 am on a frigid pre-dawn street corner in Whitby on Dec. 17 and ran the prescribed 300 metres in about two minutes as her family, friends and neighbours cheered her on. The emotion-filled run ended far too soon, but it was a memorable experience just the same.

Oates had applied to Coca-Cola last winter after watching a TV commercial promoting the torch relay. She didn’t hear back from contest organizers until July, when she received an e-mail informing her that she had made it to the second round, based on a random draw. The next step required her to write a short essay explaining why she deserved to carry the torch.

“I received an e-mail from VANOC (the company that is running the Olympics) in September saying that my essay had been picked!” Oates recalls excitedly. She then had to fill out a barrage of forms and was eventually assigned a spot in Whitby, which is near her Pickering home.

“I got my uniform a couple weeks ago, and I actually had the opportunity to purchase the torch that I am carrying,” says Oates. “Since it is a little bit out of my price range, it is going to be my Christmas present from my parents.”

Oates is a student in Centennial’s unique Cultural and Heritage Tourism program, which prepares students for careers in the growing cultural and heritage tourism sector around the world. The school of hospitality makes the students fully equipped for their career. Ironically, Canada’s Olympic Torch Relay is the type of event she will likely be planning in her own career in the future.

The 2010 Olympic Torch Relay is a 45,000-kilometre journey across Canada that will unify the country and build excitement for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The relay, which involves 12,000 runners, is more than 100 days long, and will visit over 1,000 communities and places of interest. The Vancouver Winter Games will open on February 12.