Benchmark Hospitality International honored Kaitlin Soto, restaurant and beverage cart server for Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Chicago, with its 2016 Chairman’s Award of Excellence.

The annual award, which was created in 2005 by Burt Cabañas, founder & chairman of Benchmark Hospitality International, recognizes an employee of the company who has exhibited extraordinary service throughout the previous year.

"I've been privileged to accomplish many initiatives involving academics, nutrition, and community service,” Soto said. “Throughout my blessed upbringing, I've met amazing people who have inspired me to push the limits and encourage others to follow. This is what drives me towards service to others.”

Soto was presented with the award recently in a special ceremony at Benchmark’s Home Office in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. She was recommended for the Award of Excellence by Tom Garcia, Benchmark Hospitality’s vice president and general manager for Eaglewood Resort & Spa.

“Passion for nutrition and education are evident in everything Kaitlin does professionally and personally,” Cabañas said. “Whether contributing her time to healthy eating programs for children at home or volunteering her time to help improve the lives of children in the West Indies, Kaitlin is tireless with her devotion to help people live healthier lives. I congratulate her on [the recognition].”

While attending Benedictine University where she maintained a 3.71 GPA, Soto received the 2013 Nutrition Recognition Award, and in 2015 she received the Nutrition Educator Award. Working with a local organic juice and health food café, she participated in events to encourage children to choose healthy lifestyles and helped to educate people at a chiropractic clinic to eat healthy.

On an overseas project, Ms. Soto volunteered with Sandals Foundation in Antigua, West Indies, to educate children and help them develop skills and engage them in healthful habits.

In the spring of this year Kaitlin accepted an intern position at an organization that operates under the National School Lunch Program and helped develop menus and standardized recipes as well as food sourcing to help school-aged children eat "real" foods and receive more nutrition.

Other organizations she has volunteered for and raised money for include Feed My Starving Children; Avon Walk for Breast Cancer; Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; the American Lung Association, the American Red Cross, and the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation in Chicago.