On most days Nawin Mutti gets up for work at 3:30 a.m.
He has to take an overnight bus – 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. He works at the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel 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.
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 by a genuine desire to make others happy.
“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.”
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.”
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.