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Wanderlust 2017 Introduces FGCU Student Event Committee

Wanderlust 2017, a culinary and travel auction extravaganza, has announced Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) School of Resort & Hospitality Management students Hannah Garnes, Laura Merritt and Leigh Pudwill as the student committee members leading this year’s event. The Wanderlust 2017 event will take place Saturday, April 1 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Six Bends Harley-Davidson in Fort Myers, followed by an After Party at HeadPinz in Fort Myers from 9:15 to 11:15 p.m. Event proceeds will benefit students within the School of Resort & Hospitality Management program through scholarships, conferences and training opportunities for students.

The student-led Wanderlust event provides students with the unique, hands-on experience of planning and producing a large-scale fundraising event. Garnes, Merritt and Pudwill are responsible for overseeing the complete production of Wanderlust 2017, including planning, coordination and execution of the event.

Hannah Garnes FGCU Wanderlust

Garnes is currently a junior in FGCU’s School of Resort and Hospitality Management program, with a concentration in event management and a minor in entrepreneurship.  She will be graduating from FGCU in May 2018, and hopes to pursue a career in the field of event planning with a focus on corporate events and fundraisers similar to Wanderlust. Garnes has always had a passion for event planning, and she fell in love with conventions, meetings and conferences after completing event concentration coursework at FGCU. For the Wanderlust 2017 event, Garnes is responsible for creating donation packages, monitoring Anki Overdrive, and maintaining Wanderlust’s social and digital media.

Laura Merritt FGCU Wanderlust



Merritt is currently a senior in the Resort and Hospitality Program at FGCU. She will graduate in May 2017 and plans to move to Savannah, Georgia to pursue her career in event planning, focusing on the wedding industry. The Florida native has been planning a variety of functions since she was 17 years old, beginning with her high school junior prom. With her passion for events, Merritt has been given the role of managing the production of Wanderlust 2017. She is responsible for vendor communication, organization of the live and silent auctions, and execution of the event from start to finish.

Leigh Pudwill FGCU Wanderlust


Pudwill is currently a senior studying Resort and Hospitality Management at FGCU and will be graduating in May 2017. Before becoming an FGCU Eagle, Pudwill attended the University of Northern Iowa, where she spent her first three years studying leisure youth and human services with an emphasis in tourism and a minor in business. Upon graduation, Pudwill will begin her job search in Southwest Florida, where she plans to reside. Pudwill’s main responsibilities for Wanderlust 2017 include running the BidPal auction software, combining donation items to create packages for the live and silent auctions, assisting with public relations and social media, and interviewing and assigning volunteers to specific positions to ensure the event runs smoothly.


Tickets to the Wanderlust 2017 event are $200, $250 for both the Wanderlust event and After Party, and $150 for School of Resort & Hospitality Management alumni for the Wanderlust event and After Party. To learn more about the Wanderlust 2017 event, or for more information on sponsorships, ticket purchase and auction donations, visit www.FGCUWanderlust.org or email wanderlust@fgcu.edu.


About the School of Resort & Hospitality Management at Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU)’s School of Resort & Hospitality Management provides many opportunities for students to experience and learn about all aspects of the hospitality industry. This specialized degree program, which began offering classes in 2003, is the culmination of resort industry leaders working on behalf of the University to design and offer a degree program that is tailored to the dynamic and complex needs of the premier resorts in Southwest Florida. The 120-credit curriculum meets the challenge by marrying traditional hotel, food and beverage education with resort management, marketing and technology education. The Herbert J. Sugden Hall first opened to students in the fall of 2008. The 37,000-square-foot hospitality facility offers hands-on learning for School of Resort & Hospitality Management students and features wine and food demonstration labs, a multi-function ballroom, meeting rooms, lobby, concierge desk, pedagogical food production kitchen, indoor golf simulator and club repairs labs, prototype spa laboratory and traditional classrooms. To learn more, visit www.FGCU.edu/CoB/RHMBS.

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