McNeese State University graduates like 2013 political science major Taylor Beard Stanley rise to the top of their careers. Stanley was recently recognized by the Louisiana Travel Association as the 2019 Rising Star of the Year.
The award is given to an up-and-coming leader in the tourism industry. Stanley joined the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2016 as a sales manager.
“I was shocked when my name was announced,” says Stanley. “Nominations were submitted for colleagues all over the state, so I’m honored to have been selected.”
Stanley is now a senior sales manager and is primarily focused on “selling” Lake Charles as a meeting destination for associations and corporations. Her latest project has been Destination SWLA, an educational program that explains what the bureau does and provides an overview of things to do, see and experience in the local area.
Working in a growing community, it’s easy to imagine that multi-tasking is critical to Stanley’s roll. She says this is one of the many ways McNeese prepared her for success.
“As a student you have so many things happening at once,” says Stanley. “From classes, to your job, it’s important to practice time management and prioritization. Those abilities have certainly been key to working with my many clients on several projects at once.”
Stanley also finds that an internship with Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany prepared her for the advocacy associated with tourism.
“I worked with Congressman Boustany in Washington, D.C., and was immersed in legislative action,” explains Stanley. “Everything we do at the bureau contributes to the economic fabric of Southwest Louisiana and specifically promotes Lake Charles as a fun destination. It’s important to view our work and community from a visitor’s eye and then translate that in to acquiring governmental support.”
Hands-on learning and a variety of opportunities for students to develop their professional skills both inside and outside the classroom are a part of why Stanley encourages students to make McNeese their First Choice.
“At McNeese, every student has the opportunity to work closely with faculty and build relationships that turn into mentorship,” says Stanley. “You will find everything you are looking for right here in Lake Charles. From quality education to engaging student life, McNeese has it all.”