40 Under 40: Kevin Hughes ’07

by Andrea Walls on February 26, 2018


Age 32

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
Volunteer; Alumni/Honors Program Mentor; Crew Resources at American Airlines' Integrated Operations Center

How Arcadia Influenced My Path

Arcadia expanded my world by teaching me about and taking me to places that I couldn’t have imagined. Now, I work daily with people from across the country and from around the world, using the languages and other skills that I learned in the classroom. During my time at Arcadia, I truly learned that life is an adventure to be treasured every day.

Mentor Who Made an Impact

My greatest professional mentor has been Wendy Samuels, a former leader I was lucky to meet at Disney. Wendy and I first met during an interview for a management internship when I was working in international recruitment at Walt Disney World. Long story short, Wendy turned me down for the internship. I found out it was because they knew I could do the job, but wanted to see what I would do if they turned me down. About a month after the interview, I had a one-on-one meeting with Wendy. She never spoke to me as a guy who was denied a job or "some intern" from another department. Three months later, Wendy was my strongest advocate going into a leadership casting call. She became my Disney leadership foundations coach when I was hired as a manager at Epcot. Wendy became a mentor, coach, and friend. She taught me the difference between what a manager is and what a leader does. I know if I adopt her approach, I will, at least 99% of the time, proudly make the choice that is best for my people, my operation, and my brand.

Advice to Young Alumni

Take chances, forget your comfort zone, and embrace failure. Not only does it make for the best stories, but also the greatest adventures and chances to learn. Failure is only a negative term if we let it become one. Own it, learn from it, and move forward. Sometimes a good fall on the face reminds us where the ground is and shows us who's there to pick us up.

In Five Years...

I hope to be happy and healthy. I plan to continue watching Arcadia’s Career Mentor Program as it expands and successfully connects students with alumni who mutually inspire each other to always push their boundaries.

I truly learned that life is an adventure to be treasured every day.