September 25, 2019

Graduate student spotlight: Vanessa Gonzalez-Hernandez

Vanessa Gonzalez-Hernandez is a student in the MS Tourism Management program, and an SPS Dean’s Scholar. In this post, she shares her experiences in the program and future ambitions.

What made you decide that you wanted to study at the Tisch Center and pursue a career in the hospitality industry?

When I moved to New York City 11 years ago, I came as a transfer student to obtain my bachelor’s degree in Advertising & Marketing Communications at FIT. Since a young age I have been exposed to the hospitality industry as my family owns an airport hotel and a tour operator company in Peru. I opted to work in a different world, and chose advertising. After graduation, I worked in a Hispanic advertising agency but an opportunity of working with my family business arose and I took it. My mother needed an English speaking interpreter and someone who could pitch our business at several international trade shows. I became fascinated with the industry and decided to quit my job in advertising and entered the hospitality world eight years ago. Ever since then, I became the liaison between the clients and our business, and developed strategies and plans to expand our market participation. I always told myself that one day I was going to pursue my Master's degree focused in tourism, and NYU was always on my sight. I knew what of a great school NYU is and that I would learn so much more if I studied here. That’s when I met Dr. Minnaert at a conference and expressed to her my interest in getting a certificate in tourism. She invited me to talk to one of the professors and shadow a class at the Tisch Center. I met with Professor Karaburun and he helped me a lot in guiding my path, along with Dr. Minnaert. I applied to the graduate program and have been so happy studying here ever since. 

The Dean’s Scholars Program recognizes 10 outstanding graduate students with a scholarship of $10,000 for the academic year. How does it feel to have been selected as a Dean’s Scholar? 

It feels amazing and it is truly an honor. One of my favorite aspects of the program is that we become a mentor to high school students that are part of the ASPIRE program: a two-year college preparatory program that empowers local high school students to become first-generation college students. SPS is doing such amazing work by giving these students support and access to resources that ultimately will shape their future. This is something I admire and applaud. It truly makes me feel thankful for this opportunity and proud of being an SPS Dean's Scholar. 

What has been one of your favorite classes at the Tisch Center? 

Destination Marketing with Professor Karaburun, I consider him a mentor and his class was amazing. It showed me how you can combine marketing with hospitality, two of my favorite subjects. He inspired me to start looking to do consulting oriented towards hospitality and tourism marketing. 

What do you see yourself doing in the future? 

I definitely see myself continuing to work in my family business, as well as, working with my sister in our new project, a hospitality consulting firm. I would also like to give back and continue to mentor juniors and seniors in high school who want to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. I aspire to create an organization that is focused on assisting first generation college students, Latino descendents and/or immigrants, and help them break into the hospitality and tourism industry. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

To my fellow classmates, always believe in yourself. When I look back 11 years ago when I moved to New York, my English was not nearly as good as it is now. I was fearful and doubtful whether I was going to "make it" in NYC. However, if you’re passionate, driven and committed to your goals, then I believe you are already halfway there. Continue to pursue your goals and although you will inevitably run into bumps along the road, always rise up again and keep going after what you desire.

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