Alumni Spotlight: Samuel Gaxiola (‘10)

Posted: Monday, August 10th 2015 at 2:56 PM

Steadily rising through the ranks before achieving his current position of director of Human Resources at the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa, Samuel Gaxiola got a solid start in hospitality through his education from NAU’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. He graduated in 2010 after 10 years of taking classes part-time, but slow and steady wins the race.

“It was a long and challenging road to maintain full-time employment and my education commitments,” he says. By working in the field while studying for his bachelor’s degree though, he was already ahead of other students by the time he graduated. “NAU offered the flexibility I needed to continue my education and maintain my work experience.”

He began working at the Westin La Paloma in 2000 as Human Resources Administrative Assistant when he started classes at NAU. He was promoted to HR Coordinator the following year, then HR Manager in 2005, Assistant Director of HR in 2007 and has been the Director of HR since 2009.

College course requirements can be confusing enough when not juggling a fulltime job, but Gaxiola was able to get the help he needed.

“The NAU team was always at the ready whenever there was a question,” he says.

Finding his path

Even when not working, Gaxiola enjoys being active through an ever changing list of hobbies.

“I enjoy learning about everything,” he says. “My latest hobby is archery, which in turn has led me to learning a lot about different types of strings and knot tying.”

Before choosing hospitality as his career, he played around with the idea of being a musician and was even a guitarist in a local band for a while. He was determined to continue his education though and work in the exciting hospitality field. Has found what he really wants to do and is lucky enough to have great coworkers and customers.

“We are all from different walks of life and various parts of the world,” he says. “It is a privilege to work here and be part of a great hospitality company.”

Categories: alumni spotlight summer 2015 samuel gaxiola alumni the westin la paloma resort and spa