MPI Creates 'Vanessa Cotton' Scholarship for European Students

Dallas-based Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has created a new scholarship for European students who are beginning their careers in the meetings and events industry, it announced today. The scholarship, the Vanessa Cotton Memorial Student Award, is named in honor of Vanessa Cotton, a veteran of the U.K. events industry who died last year after a long, private bout with cancer.

Cotton was a well-known and respected veteran figure in the U.K. and European meetings and incentive travel industry. She served as managing director of conferences and events at ExCel London for four years and also built a conference organizing business called the Event Organisation. Prior to her death, she was recruited by Reed Travel Exhibitions to oversee its range of global travel trade shows and also to lay the groundwork for the inaugural AIBTM exhibition in Baltimore. She stepped down from that position in June 2010, the same month she passed away.

"Vanessa contributed immensely to the event industry," said Graeme Barnett, exhibition director for EIBTM, Reed Travel Exhibitions' European meetings exhibition. "One of the projects she spearheaded was our future engagement with Generation Y, so this scholarship is a fitting tribute in her name."

The Vanessa Cotton Memorial scholarship will be available to MPI member and non-member students and will sponsor registration, accommodations and travel for at least one student to experience the professional development and networking at MPI's European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC). The scholarship, in the amount of €1,050, is made possible with contributions from three collaborators — ExCel London, Reed Travel Expositions and the MPI UK & Ireland Chapter — each of which will commit €350 for the next five years, with plans to increase fundraising and send more students to EMEC.

"We are delighted to be involved with the Vanessa Cotton Memorial Student Award," said James Reed, director of conferences and events for ExCel London. "Vanessa was extremely passionate about the events industry and encouraging new talent. This is a very fitting legacy and one that we are proud to support."

Added Fiona Pelham, past president of the MPI UK & Ireland Chapter, "This award will recognize the importance of nurturing future talent within the event sector. The European Meetings & Events Conference is a fantastic way to build a network, receive key industry education and it is great that this award will enable a student to have this influential experience."

The Vanessa Cotton Memorial Scholarship opens today. Students can find information on criteria and the application process on the MPI UK & Ireland website. The winner will be announced at the MPI stand during EIBTM in December.