Christina Smotherman is gaining
hands-on experience in
customer service, hospitality
and tourism service through
an internship at the Crossville-Cumberland
Chamber of Commerce. There
she works with Chamber President
Ethan Hadley and Melanie
Story & Photos by
TCAT gives students hands-on experience in retail, hospitality & tourism
Tourism is one of Cumberland County’s top
industries, supporting more than 1,000 jobs in the
county and bringing in $127.8 million in spending to
the county in 2018.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology
launched a new program last year to support that
industry both locally and across the region. The
retail, hospitality and tourism technology program
began 18 months ago. So far, three students have
graduated from the program and all have found jobs
in their industry.
Christina Smotherman started the program in
“I started looking at what I want to do the rest of
my life,” Smotherman said.
She has worked in a variety of jobs. The common
thread was the joy she found in helping others and
creating a pleasant environment.
She works at Fall Creek Falls State Park in the
hospitality department. She talked with her manager
about her job.
“I saw what she did and it sounded interesting,”
Smotherman said. “I got a lot of information from
She was debating if she wanted to pursue the
retail, hospitality and tourism certification from
TCAT when a Bible verse caught her attention at
church. Hebrews 13:2 said, “Be not forgetful to
entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained
“It was like a sign I should pursue this,” she said.
She hopes to secure a position as a front desk
clerk at the new Fall Creek Falls State Park lodge,
set to open in the fall of 2021. Her long-term goals
include working as hospitality manager for the park.
The program teaches students best practices and
skills used in the operations of retail stores, food
service, lodging, attractions, recreation activities and
Instructor Wanda Reid uses a variety of workbased
activities, guest lectures, and portfolio building
to develop the technical and professional skills
needed by the industry.
Reid works closely with area businesses to provide
her students with internship opportunities, typically
completed in the final trimester. However,
Smotherman has been able to start her internship in
her first trimester, helping at the Crossville-Cumberland
County Chamber of Commerce one day a
“I was excited for her to have that opportunity at
the Chamber,” Reid said. “The people you will have
the opportunity to build contacts with will be in
your favor. It’s a great place to build those contacts.”
14 | Cumberland Now • September 2020