Peter Ricci: “Do what works for you”

Started as: Dishwasher

Currently: Director of Hospitality and Tourism, Florida Atlantic University

As Director of Florida Atlantic University’s Hospitality and Tourism program, Peter Ricci fosters connections and brings people together. Starting as a dishwasher at 14, Peter has cultivated relationships in virtually every role in the world of hospitality over the past 40 years.

“I started as a teenager in fine dining,” says Peter. “I grew up in a family on welfare and decided to get a job at a local restaurant after hearing an announcement in my high school. It turned out to be a fun job. I was a dishwasher, a busser, and then a server.”

Working in restaurants throughout college, Peter forged a way to merge, being passionate about personal growth and hospitality via higher education.

“That’s what hospitality does, bring people together,” says Peter. “ I always tell my students if you’re the kind of person who likes to help others innately, you probably have the skill set that we like – we’ll train you on the rest!”

Since day one, Peter found his ideal fit in hospitality. Transitioning to full-time academia in his 30s, he still leverages his service mindset to connect with people from every walk of life.

“I went from a lower-income family with parents who never made it past high school to receiving my doctorate,” he notes. “I found my home in hospitality; there’s never been a place where I couldn’t live or work. I have friends all over the world now, it’s just cool!”