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Student paintings stacked in preparation for the Al Young Student Art Show.

Michael Cornthwaite '95

Las Vegas Business Owner

Major in Spanish

Michael owns or is a partner in 11 downtown Las Vegas venues, including restaurants, bars, and galleries.

Michael Cornthwaite is a Las Vegas business owner and partner in 11 downtown Las Vegas venues

As a Knox student, you juggled many extracurriculars in addition to your classes, including athletics, fraternity involvement, and WVKC. How do you think your liberal arts experience has impacted your life after Knox, specifically your role as business owner for a diverse range of venues?

My ability to handle stress, manage my time, and solve problems are all skills that can probably be tracked back to a challenging Knox experience. Even with a lot on my plate and 75 employees, the challenges I had in my college years were some of the toughest.

If you can walk away from Knox with the ability to deal with diverse groups of people, think critically, and communicate effectively, the only thing between a student and a successful life is a few years of very hard work and a mission.

The opportunity to participate in the Knox program in Barcelona was probably the one experience that changed my life, my perspective, and my path most dramatically for the better. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Why did the renovation of downtown Las Vegas mean so much to you?

That's a very interesting question because I really don't know. The best way I can characterize my experience was that from the moment I first visited, it never stopped calling to me. I'm just happy I was able to listen and recognize the "inner-voice." The history, opportunity, and endless potential won me over from the moment I arrived.

What advice would you give to Knox students as they look toward their post-graduation futures?

I would encourage them to approach life with a completely open mind, to forget about what they think they are supposed to do, and let their hearts be their guide. They need to define their OWN success. As difficult and sometimes scary as it is, exploring the unknown is what will lead to the best opportunities for happiness and fulfillment.

People ask me a lot about my major in college and how I got to my current place in life. It's fun to talk about because I always say that, "students should go to college to learn, and become better educated ... to experience as much as they can ... not for job training. Oh ... and my major was Spanish." The look on their faces is always priceless.

While at Knox, Cornthwaite studied abroad in Barcelona, hosted a radio show on WVKC, was a member of  Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and competed in track and football.

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Printed on Thursday, April 25, 2024