07/15/2014 12:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Tale of Two Graduations


I recently attended the graduation ceremonies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Our grandson, Matthew, was receiving his masters in hotel administration. It was a great thrill to see him walk across the stage and receive his diploma.

Matthew is our daughter Debbie's youngest son and he's grown up in our hotel family. During summers he has worked many different hotel positions, including banquet houseman and front desk clerk. He is really excited about his future in our family hotel business.

After graduation, I was approached by an Hispanic family. The father said his name was Jose Gonzalez and his wife was Maria. They said they both worked at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. They were there to see their son, Jose, receive his diploma. Jose, Sr. said he had been with Marriott for 38 years and his wife Maria for 16. I later learned that Jose, Sr. started as a bus boy and has now become a room service waiter at our LAX hotel. Maria started as a housekeeper and then moved into food and beverage as a station attendant and later a line cook.

Jose and Maria have four children. One son is a Sergeant in the Army and did two tours in Iraq and is now in the National Guard.

Jose Jr. graduated with honors from Lennox High School in California and was valedictorian of his graduating class. He received a full scholarship to Cornell and did several summer internships with Marriott. How proud we are that he was the first in his family to graduate from a university.

Our core belief is that we provide opportunity for our people and help them with training and coaching. Many of our families have taken advantage of this. Jose and Maria used their progress at Marriott to raise a wonderful family and were obviously thrilled to witness their son graduate from one of the world's most prestigious universities.

I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

This post first appeared on