Today, if you walked a mile in Mark Brewington’s shoes, you’d likely end up with your toes in the Pacific Ocean. The double Johnson & Wales University alum, ’11, ’18 MBA – Hospitality, (triple alum if you count his '08 associate degree in culinary arts) lives within a few blocks of the beach and keeps his horses on a horse farm outside of San Diego.
But rewind 20 years, same shoes, and you’d be on the opposite coast managing one of Florida’s hottest club scenes. That’s where Mark got his first taste of the hospitality industry, and since then, he’s learned to command the kitchen, earning his culinary degree at JWU’s Charlotte campus, working as an executive chef in various restaurant concepts, and cooking and instructing with leading corporate retailers in the field like Sur la Table as resident chef. Prior to his stints in the kitchen, he served in the navy and even worked in banking as a loan officer with HSBC during the subprime mortgage boom—a job he left for that exact soul-sucking reason before the crash.
Mark understands so many walks of life because he has walked many paths. His unique experiences alone qualify him to be a mentor, but more than that, his passion for JWU and sincere gratitude for the education he received made him act on the invitation to sign on.
Currently, Mark works with three students enrolled in the JWU College of Online Education. He helps them with everything from calming their anxiety before a quiz to focusing on their careers. Their common field, hospitality, allows him to speak from experience. “Hospitality can be a deadly industry,” he said. “You do, do, do, and then it’s done and everyone moves on. So I tell them to document everything. Write it all down so you know what you’ve accomplished.” In addition, he tells his mentees that in order to sell themselves, they have to sell Johnson & Wales. “Don’t be afraid to say that it’s the best in the country. Period. Done.”
For those considering becoming a mentor, Mark offered this advice: “Be available. Make constant contact. But know that your mentees don’t need to be ‘fixed’—you are just another avenue to their success. It’s about being there for really good peeps.”
He can speak to quality mentorship because he has received it, both in the past as an MBA student himself with JWU Online's Michael O'Malley and as a current doctoral student at the University of Southern California. “It takes a village,” he said.
As he looks around at his current classmates—a vice president of a Macy’s, medical doctors, a superintendent in Los Angeles—he has a perspective that he shares with his mentees. “JWU got me here. It’s not osmosis.”
It’s also hard work. Walking the walk. And extending a hand to those who come behind him.
Want to learn more about earning your online degree from Johnson & Wales University? Complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.