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He was couch-surfing two years ago, now he's a rising star in Nashville's hospitality industry

Posted at 6:55 AM, Oct 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 08:00:36-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a suit and tie, standing behind a counter at a busy Nashville hotel, you would never know Gavin Wilson was homeless two years ago.

It was after spending time in jail that Wilson, 26, started to couch-surf. He didn't have a job and wasn't motivated.

"It was a bad spot of my life," said Wilson.

Wilson, of Woodbine, said his mother pushed him to check out Goodwill's three-day hospitality training program.

"I've never done hospitality, but I was willing to give anything a shot to better my life and help me do better."

That decision led him to hiring manager Gena Shearon and the Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt.

Shearon said the day she met Wilson he promised to fill out an application to work at her hotel. When she got back to her desk, he had.

"He meant what he said," said Shearon. "That impressed me on the front end."

When Wilson applied, the only job available was the one he wanted to do the least - washing dishes.

"I went ahead and said 'I'll take it.' I said 'is there room for improvement?'" explained Wilson.

There was. Wilson was promoted to food prep, then cook and most recently to front-desk associate, which is what he wanted to do all along.

"Look where I've come!" Wilson said.

Eighteen-months in to his new career, WIlson knows he wants to be a motivational speaker.

"It's okay be at your low as long as you know you have a high point as well," Wilson said.

If you want to learn more about the hospitality training program click here.