Finding A Sense of Belonging
I grew up in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, surrounded by the sounds of two distinct radio stations: a blues station and a country station. Country music, particularly the hits of the ’90s, always resonated with me. Little did I know, as I sang loudly and off key to the tunes of Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Ty Herndon, Travis Tritt, The Judds and Reba, that my professional journey would lead me to a remarkable place – Ryman Hospitality Properties.
After the upheavals of the pandemic, I found myself at a crossroads in my career. Despite exploring various industries, I had yet to discover a place where I felt truly authentic – a place where I could be myself. Fueled by a desire for change, I returned to school to pursue a degree in Business Administration with the goal of establishing my own business. As part of my academic curriculum, I needed to secure an internship. Already committed to a summer internship, I stumbled upon an intriguing opportunity with RHP. I decided to apply, and to my surprise, a recruiter promptly reached out to discuss potential roles. This led to a meeting with the Chief Operating Officer of Opry Entertainment, where we delved into my background. To my delight, an internship tailored to my aspirations was created, setting the stage for an unforgettable summer.
During my internship, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the operations of various Nashville venues, interacting with diverse teams and gaining insights beyond my expectations. The experience was nothing short of transformative. As the summer concluded, I was offered the chance to continue my journey with the company, and I enthusiastically chose to contribute to the vibrant atmosphere of our downtown Ole Red location.
Ole Red Nashville, situated in the heart of Broadway, proved to be the most inclusive workplace I’ve encountered. Despite initial reservations about downtown not feeling welcoming, especially as a person of color, I found a sense of belonging with the Ole Red team. Working at Ole Red exposed me to a level of diversity I hadn’t encountered before. In addition, participating in RHP’s Diversity Council provided valuable insights into my own privilege and biases. This experience inspired me to pursue Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) certifications, aiming to support other underrepresented individuals. As I approach my graduation in December 2023, I am not only proud of this academic milestone but also proud to be an integral part of the Ryman Hospitality Properties family.
Topher – Sr. Events Manager, Grand Ole Opry
Nicole – Marketing Strategy – Hotels
Leeanne – Operation & HR Manager, Circle