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By Sean McNeely on July 10, 2017 

Nawin Mutti

A disability is no deterrent for this promising hospitality career

On most days Nawin Mutti gets up for work at 3:30 a.m. That’s right, 3:30 a.m.

He has to take an overnight bus which is the only one running at that hour, so his route is longer than normal.

Likely the best dressed passenger, he looks sharp in black dress pants, white dress shirt, red tie and a black vest.

“It makes me proud,” said Nawin of wearing his uniform of the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel where Nawin works as a part-time concierge lounge attendant.

Nawin greets guests in the hotel’s concierge lounge. He replenishes food items, clears tables and gives general hotel and city information to guests.

And he loves it.

“Ever since I was young, I loved hospitality, and I’ve always been interested in hotel and restaurants – how they work, how they operate,” he said.

Overcoming obstacles

A recent graduate of Humber’s Hospitality Management program, Nawin has overcome a lot to get here – bullying, isolation and the challenges that come with having a disability.

Nawin has Joubert syndrome, a disorder of brain development that can affect different parts of the body. (It most often affects the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination.)

People sometimes mistakenly believe he has cerebral palsy.

Nawin can walk, but he has trouble with his balance. His speech is also affected and he has a learning disability, which means he sometimes needs a little extra time to process ideas.

But none of this stops the ambitious 22-year-old, who loves coming to work each morning, fueled with a genuine desire to make others happy.

Small gestures, big impact

“I understand that if you say ‘hi’ to someone or give them a smile, it could make their day,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m making a difference.”

Another person he makes happy is his manager.

“Nawin has a positive energy that is contagious with guests as well as his fellow associates,” said Kiran Amin, the hotel’s Senior Restaurant Operations Manager.

“He’s always asking questions which demonstrates how eager he is to learn, and he tells us all the time how this is preparing him to be a general manager someday. He has integrated well into the hotel culture and has even joined the hotel’s Care Committee which is a committee that promotes charitable acts and fund raising.”

Faculty fondness

Nawin’s instructors at Humber are not the least bit surprised by his success.

Colin Bartley who taught Nawin risk management and hospitality law remembers his selflessness.

“One of his philosophies is that we’re here to help others,” said Colin.

After graduating, Colin asked Nawin to return to Humber to speak at a business professionalism course about his disability in terms of how others treat him and how he would like to be treated.

“Not only did he speak, he allowed me to video him to show other classes. When he realized what I was going to use the video for, he offered to return to campus three more times and speak directly to other classes in person.”

Kristy Adams, who taught Nawin Hospitality, Marketing and Sales, was struck by his courage.

“In a class of over 50 students, he was confident enough to raise his hand and speak publicly. That’s challenging at the best of times and certainly even more intimidating when you have Joubert Syndrome.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he will succeed,” she continued. “He’s smart, a diligent worker and possesses an optimistic outlook. He opens people’s minds, makes people comfortable and consistently delivers.”

Paying homage to Humber

Nawin is quick to credit Humber for giving him the skills to complement his passion for the hospitality industry.

“Humber was a wonderful experience,” he said.

“In high school I was bullied and I didn’t have a lot of friends. Coming to Humber, I was nervous and scared, but the teachers welcomed me and worked with me and got to know me on a more personal level.

So did his fellow students, with Nawin creating strong friendships.

“At Humber I found two of my best friends, we still talk and hang out to this day,” he said.

Listen to Nawin's story on CBC Radio 

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