News and Information

University of Houston student wins

inaugural International Quilt Festival scholarship


HOUSTON – April 15, 2019 – As one of the city of Houston’s largest annual public shows – in terms of both attendance and square footage utilized – the International Quilt Festival makes for great “real world” training ground for any college student pursuing a career in events or hospitality.


That was the case for University of Houston student Wendy Rodriguez, who was recently named the first-ever recipient of the International Quilt Festival Scholarship.


Quilts, Inc. Vice President of Shows and Show Director Ruth Polanco, Hilton College Instructional Assistant Professor Simone Doudna, scholarship winner Wendy Rodriguez, and Quilts, Inc. Vice President of Communications Bob Ruggiero



The $1,000 scholarship was open to any student enrolled in UH’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management who volunteered to work at last year’s International Quilt Festival (which is produced by parent company Quilts, Inc.), and then submitted an essay about their experiences.


Rodriguez worked in the Quilt Festival Press Room, which serves local, national, and international media covering the show. Her essay and its contents was deemed the best of all  of the applicants by a panel of judges.


“We are very pleased to not only offer this scholarship, but give it to such a deserving student as well,” says Karey Bresenhan, Founder and Director Emeritus of International Quilt Festival. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work at our show that the public never sees. And there’s definitely a lot that a student can learn in that capacity.”


“We’re very thankful for International Quilt Festival and their partnership with Hilton College,” notes Miguel Cabrera, UH Director of Development & Alumni Engagement at Hilton College.


“They are providing our students with an excellent opportunity to be a part of a significant event and to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the industry they serve. The scholarship helps ease some of the  financial burdens for our students, allowing them to fully focus on their studies.”


As for Rodriguez, her course of study has included many classes on events, specializing in conventions and facility management. She plans to graduate in the spring of 2020 and pursue a career in event planning, production, or coordination.


“I’m so grateful to have been chosen for this scholarship,” says Rodriguez, noting that her interest in event production was first stoked by attending childhood birthday parties and taking note of the decorations, audio-visual aspects, and lighting.


“Now, as I've gotten to know more about what it takes to run successful events, I love the logistics of it and making things fall into place to be memorable in guests’ minds,” she says. As for her time at Quilt Festival, Rodriguez adds “from talking to everybody I met that worked on the show, I learned that you definitely have to be able to adapt and constantly evolve with the way technology and the world moves. Staying stagnant is probably the worst thing you can do in events.”




International Quilt Festival will continue the scholarship program at the University of Houston for 2019, and applicants will be attending and working as part of the show’s 45th anniversary this October 31-November 3 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.