Why I Want to Become a Certified Tourism Ambassador in Lansing

Apr 12, 2024 | Career

I recently discovered and became interested in the Certified Tourism Ambassador program in Lansing, MI. Learn why I want this certification.
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Discovering the Opportunity

One day, while working on a spreadsheet of potential sponsors and donors for the Women’s Center, I found myself browsing the Choose Lansing Facebook page for prospects. As I got deeper into my search, I discovered that the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB) was responsible for the Choose Lansing page, which intrigued me. I had heard about the GLCVB numerous times throughout my years living in Lansing, but the Choose Lansing name was a fairly new concept that had been circulating in the community.

This piqued my interest, and I decided to explore the lansing.org website to learn more. I discovered that Choose Lansing was a rebrand; the GLCVB is now Choose Lansing. According to the website,

“Choose Lansing is a non-profit, Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) that seeks to positively impact the community’s quality of life by developing the tri-county area of Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton counties as a visitor destination. This was the mission of the GLCVB, and it remains its mission moving forward. Only the name and logo are changing.”

GLCVB & GLSA Rebrand, Choose Lansing

The Kristina Kauffman Scholarship Fund

While browsing the website, I stumbled upon the Kristina Kauffman Scholarship Fund, which is being offered by the Team Lansing Foundation and Choose Lansing. This scholarship covers the cost of the Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program. 

Kristina Kauffman, who was the CTA Program Manager for our region and the Events Program Manager for the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau, passed away on October 31, 2020. Kristina had a deep passion for the CTA program, as she firmly believed in its ability to make a positive impact on the community by promoting tourism in the region. She wanted everyone to share her love for Lansing. To honor her memory and dedication to the Greater Lansing area, this scholarship fund was established to allow more individuals to become ambassadors for the region, who may not have been able to do so.

Learning about this opportunity caught my attention, and I started to look into what a CTA is, why thousands of individuals across the U.S. have become CTAs for their respective communities, and whether it would be a good option for me to explore.

What is the Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program? 

The Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program is an international certification program that has been available in our community for 13 years. The program aims to increase tourism by training and inspiring residents in front-line hospitality and tourism-related positions, such as hotel, local attractions, and restaurant employees. The goal is to equip them with a more in-depth knowledge of the area’s many assets so they can work together to turn every visitor encounter into a positive and memorable experience. 

Lansing is among the five cities in Michigan which provide a CTA program. Although the program mainly targets the hospitality community, any interested resident of Greater Lansing can enroll. According to the website, becoming a CTA offers numerous benefits such as a meaningful credential, building valuable skills, opportunities for career advancement, networking opportunities, regular advice and updates, and other rewards and incentives. The program curriculum, which costs $20 per person, is delivered through reading assignments and a half-day in-class session which is held at the Choose Lansing offices and accompanied by an open-book exam. After completing the program, participants will have acquired comprehensive education and a nationally recognized certification designation to add to their resume. 

Why the CTA Program Matters to Lansing

Tourism is a significant contributor to the Greater Lansing area’s economy. This includes visitors who come for meetings, conventions, sports tournaments, weekend getaways, and to visit their loved ones at MSU. In fact, according to Kristina Kauffman,

“The Greater Lansing region hosts over 4.8 million tourists, which generate $602 million for the local economy every year. In addition, the hospitality industry supports over 11,000 local jobs.”

Kristina Kauffman, 517 Business and Lifestyle Magazine

Having a large number of knowledgeable and passionate locals is crucial to making Lansing a special place. Many of us have friends and family members who come to visit us, and having people who are enthusiastic about sharing the best aspects of their community with others is an excellent asset. This is where the Community Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program comes in. It empowers residents to act as a welcoming committee for visitors, providing them with endless resources and information about the area and encouraging everyone to love Lansing like a local.

Why I Want to Become A Lansing CTA

As an MSU alumnus who resides and works in the area, I am also a host for MIpreneur where we put on bi-monthly events that focus on topics related to the entire experience of building a brand or business in Michigan. Personally, I strive to be a notable digital creator public figure within Michigan, and having more in-depth knowledge about the community where I am establishing myself will help me to put on better events and be a better resource in orienting and welcoming newcomers to our area. The CTA Program also complements the Certified Business Professional: Customer Service certification that I received as a student with Focus: HOPE’s Information Technology Center. This certification allows me to build upon my knowledge of the local region, enhance my skills in serving customers, increase my awareness of information resources, and discover the power of tourism! 

After doing a brief search, I decided to pursue this certification to add this accomplishment to my resume. My love for Lansing runs deep, and I see this as a very useful training and an excellent way to learn more about the greater Lansing area to help others navigate and make it their “home”.

The scholarship application form on the website is straightforward and easy to fill out. It poses a simple yet thought-provoking question, “Please explain your reasoning for applying for the Kristina Kauffman Scholarship Fund.” As someone who is keenly interested in pursuing higher education, in this post, I would like to take the opportunity to share the specific reasons that have motivated me to apply for the CTA scholarship.

My Journey in Lansing, MI

As I reflect on my journey, it’s evident that Lansing, Michigan, has played a pivotal role in shaping who I am today. While Detroit will forever hold my roots, Lansing embraced me during my college years and has become a cherished part of my story. Now, residing in Downtown Lansing, I am fueled by a passion to contribute meaningfully to this vibrant community, which is why becoming a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) for Lansing holds such significance for me.

Leaving home at 17 to pursue higher education at Michigan State University marked a significant chapter in my life. My room vanished overnight, symbolizing the transition from childhood to adulthood. Lansing and East Lansing became my new home, offering experiences that sculpted my character and expanded my horizons.

My journey took a detour to Houston in 2017, a quest for change and growth. Yet, amidst the bustling streets of a new city, I realized that happiness stemmed not just from geographical shifts but from inner transformation. Returning to Michigan in 2020, I found myself back in Lansing, where my coming-of-age tale continues to unfold.

Why I Love Lansing

Living in Lansing has been a tapestry of firsts – my initial roommate beyond siblings, navigating the local bar scene, securing my first apartment, and milestones like obtaining my driver’s license and landing my first job. Each experience enriched me, ingraining a deep affection for Lansing’s vibrant culture and resilient community spirit.

My passion for Lansing extends beyond personal nostalgia. It’s rooted in a fervent desire to contribute meaningfully to its growth and prosperity. The opportunity to become a Certified Tourism Ambassador aligns perfectly with this vision. As a CTA, I aim to be a catalyst for positive change, enhancing visitor experiences and fostering community pride.

Lansing’s charm lies not just in its landmarks but in the stories woven by its residents. Every corner holds tales of resilience, creativity, and unity. As a Certified Tourism Ambassador, I am eager to showcase Lansing’s hidden gems, amplify its cultural heritage, and create memorable experiences for visitors and locals alike.

Why I Want This Scholarship

My journey to becoming a CTA is not just about earning a certification; it’s a commitment to serve as a bridge between visitors and the heart of Lansing. My mission as a CTA will be to celebrate Lansing’s past, embrace its present, and shape a brighter future together. Through knowledge sharing, hospitality, and a genuine love for this city, I aspire to contribute to Lansing’s narrative and leave a lasting, positive impact on its community.

My passion for learning and desire to gain knowledge are among the key factors that have driven me to seek financial assistance. As a first-generation college student, I understand the value of education and the impact it can have on one’s life. I am committed to working hard and making the most of any opportunity that comes my way. I believe that the CTA scholarship will not only provide me with financial support but also inspire and motivate me to achieve my goals.

What’s Next? 

Today, I submitted an application for the Kristina Kauffman Scholarship Fund on the Choose Lansing website. The next CTA class is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22, 2024, from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM. I am hoping to be approved for the scholarship so that I can attend the class and obtain my certification. If I am not selected for the scholarship, I plan to either use my professional development funds from my AmeriCorps VISTA service year or purchase the class out-of-pocket to obtain my certification. Stay tuned and follow me for updates; I will keep you updated on my progress.

Want to know more about becoming a CTA? 

To learn more about this national program located right here in Lansing and the benefits it can offer to you, visit the Benefits to CTAs page on the CTA Network website.

To access a class schedule and additional information, visit the CTA Program page on the Choose Lansing website.

To learn more about the Kristina Kauffman Scholarship Fund, visit the scholarship application page on the Choose Lansing website.


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Desiree' M. Slaughter

Desiree' M. Slaughter

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