Before Anthony Melchiorri went on to lead a successful career as a New York hotel executive and the host of hospitality makeover reality show “Hotel Impossible,” he was a U.S. Air Force enlistee working weekends at an Overland Park hotel.
While working there, he also was completing business courses at the Park University extension at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster.
Reflecting on the period in anticipation of Park University’s homecoming weekend Sept. 15 to 17, Melchiorri — class of ’90 — said the chapter was foundational to his current success.
“When I left in four years, I had a four-year military career, I had a four-year bachelor’s degree, and I had three and half years of hotel experience. So that region, that area, those years were really the foundation of my entire career,” he said.
A group of four alumni, including Melchiorri, will accept awards at the Alumni Association luncheon on Sept. 16. Other events for the weekend, many open to the public, include talks, tours, concerts and, of course, sports.
Melchiorri lauded the school’s appeal to soldiers on base, as the school encouraged them to continue their educations.
He said one of the first things he appreciated there in 1983 was the Park University course offerings. The school effectively brought the classroom to the soldiers offering their instruction and professors to student soldiers on base, he said.
“It was so convenient and in your face,” Melchiorri said, recalling the college’s footprint on the air base. “They made it so accessible I felt I had to be not very smart to not take advantage of it.”
Melchiorri completed his bachelor’s degree in business through the Parkville-based school.
“It’s really one of the highlights of my life because I was the first person in my family to graduate college,” he said.
“Hotel Impossible” recent aired the last episode of its seventh season on the Travel Channel.
During the luncheon, fellow distinguished alumni Peter deSilva, president of Scottrade Inc.; Greg Mills, city administrator and public safety director of the city of Riverside; and Darwin Rivera, senior solutions architect of security company HID Global, also will be recognized.
Park University’s homecoming programming includes a soccer match, barbecue lunch and an evening concert on Sept. 17.