Nonprofit helps students pursuing graduate degrees

Some of today’s community leaders wouldn’t be as successful if they hadn’t had access to an array of educational enrichment, professional development, financial assistance and mentoring resources to aid them through their college years and beyond.

The nonprofit Las Vegas Business Academy wants to make sure the next generation of leaders has the resources to succeed and prosper.

“When my father, Rino Armeni, started the Las Vegas Business Academy, I knew it was going to be a great organization that is dedicated to the future of Las Vegas,” said Paola Armeni, the academy’s chief administrative officer and partner at Gordon Silver. “I initially joined the nonprofit as a board member because I believe in Las Vegas, and I want to help ensure its success in the future.”

The nonprofit organization, founded in 2011, seeks out Nevada’s next generation of leaders by granting scholarships to students pursuing a law degree or a master’s degree in business or hospitality management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The scholarships are based on several factors including being a U.S. citizen or legal resident, enrollment or plans to enroll in MBA, JD or MHA at UNLV, and a minimum college or postsecondary degree 3.25 GPA. Also, adviser recommendation letters and community service are considered.

Selected students are awarded up to $75,000 in scholarship funding, dependent on the program they are pursuing. Scholarship funds are generated through corporate donations and at the nonprofit’s annual fall fundraiser “Rockin’ on the Roof,” which brings together Las Vegas’ top hospitality executives, chefs and community leaders.

Hospitality leader Max Tappeiner has come a long way in the industry and hopes to pass on what he has accomplished to scholarship recipients as the newly appointed board president of the organization.

“I started my career in hospitality at one of the finest hotels in Europe, the Hotel Adlon in Berlin,” Tappeiner said. “I was able to work in all facets of traditional hotel operation, including the work in the kitchen, stewarding and housekeeping. This opportunity allowed me to understand and appreciate all trades within this industry.”

After Tappeiner graduated from hospitality management school in Berlin, he joined Mandarin Oriental, where he has spent the past 11 years. During this time, he worked in the London and Washington, D.C., locations and helped open the New York location in 2003 and the Las Vegas location in 2009.

As president of the Las Vegas Business Academy, Tappeiner recognizes the significant success of the nonprofit over the past three years and has high hopes to grow the organization further. Having recently graduated from the corporate-sponsored executive MBA program with Mandarin Oriental, Tappeiner said he truly values education and financial support.

Some of his initiatives and goals for the upcoming year include awarding scholarships to at least 10 students within the next 18 months.

“This will allow the future leadership of many industries within our city to have a diverse background, offering new and innovative ideas for strengthening Las Vegas,” he said.

Tappeiner added that the board will continue to be deeply engaged by providing strong and clear leadership for scholarship recipients.

Scholarship recipient Matthew Sheahan graduated from UNLV with a master’s degree in hotel administration on Dec. 16.

“The scholarship has helped me to achieve my goals in several ways,” Sheahan said. “Not only has the Las Vegas Business Academy generously financed a world-class education at the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, but the scholarship program has also given me the opportunity to mentor with many of Las Vegas’ most accomplished business professionals.”

Sheahan said having the opportunity to come to Las Vegas and study at UNLV, and be mentored by some of Las Vegas’ most knowledgeable business professionals, has changed his life.

“While there is significant work ahead of us, spending time with our board members and students inspires me to push forward in our mission of molding the future leadership of our city,” Tappeiner said. “I am fully dedicated to our cause and incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this astounding organization.”

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