Often times, it takes a huge risk to launch a successful career. Around the young age of 10, Harris Rosen already knew that a career in hospitality would be one he could really be passionate about.
Growing up in New York City’s Lower East Side, Rosen assisted his dad with various tasks at his job at the Waldorf Astoria and encountered many astonishing people staying there. “It finally occurred to me that hospitality could be a wonderful career, a career enabling me to do things I really enjoyed while having an opportunity to meet some really extraordinary people at the same time,” Rosen says.
It all started on June 24, 1974 when Rosen purchased a small Quality Inn – now called the Rosen Inn – located on International Drive. With dedication and a lot of hard work, he successfully watched his career skyrocket and is now the proud owner of several properties. “I am so grateful for this little property, which was the start of what has proven to be such a wonderful career,” he says.
Forty years later, Rosen is not only at the helm of a successful brand, but he is also committed to making his community a better place. The focus of his charitable efforts has always been on education. His parents emphasized the importance of learning, and he credits his own education for his many blessings. “Education has always been an important aspect of achieving a better life for oneself,” Rosen says.
In 1993, Rosen created the Tangelo Park Program, which is an educational initiative that assists children and family residing in the Tangelo Park neighborhood. “Discovering the Tangelo Park community just ten minutes from our hotels that needed help and then creating a program where education was a significant component was an incredibly exciting and gratifying endeavor,” Rosen says. Launched 20 years ago, the program has already sent more than 200 students to college, footing the bill for room, board, books and tuition so the students can focus on their studies. Virtually 100 percent of students have graduated with a diploma and 83 percent have completed their program in graduate school. Other successful transformations to the Tangelo community have included a pre-school program, parent resource center and a Tangelo Park YMCA.
Years later, Rosen combined his love for hospitality and philanthropy with the end result being the creation of UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. He was involved with the design and construction of the college, and personally gives 100 to 150 scholarships to students every year.
With the 40th anniversary of the Rosen hotels happening this month, Rosen has shown to be a prime example of what following your dreams can lead to. He hopes to inspire others, including future hospitality graduates saying,
“To accomplish your dream, you must work hard, you must respect others, and you must always be honest. If you put all of those ingredients together, it will greatly enhance your opportunity to succeed.”