November 14, 2022

Student Spotlight: Yun Tzu Niu/Tisch Center of Hospitality-Phocuswright Conference Ambassador

Born and raised in Hualien, Taiwan, Yun Tzu Niu moved with her family to Germany, and then to Orange County, California, when she was 11. Despite the language barrier, she excelled in school, taking AP classes and receiving the AP Scholar with Distinction award. She also participated in the band, choir, and dance team in high school. Over the summers, she volunteered at a local Chinese school to help teach Mandarin. While earning a BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Tisch Center, she works as a hostess at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Cote Korean Steakhouse. She was selected to be a student ambassador at the Phocuswright Conference.

What are you passionate about and why?
I am passionate about meeting new people, building relationships through shared interests, and helping to create a more inclusive community. I have been dancing since a young age and am currently on the NYU dance team. I am also part of the Taiwanese American Student Society on campus, aiming to spread cultural awareness.

What led you to the hospitality industry?
My family loves traveling. When we were in Germany, we would go on road trips to different European cities to experience their festivities and cultures first-hand. The kindness and hospitality the hotel/restaurant owners demonstrated encouraged me to become the inspiring figure they were to me. As one of the top hospitality schools in the States, with New York City as its campus, I committed to NYU SPS and the Tisch Center of Hospitality.

What have been the highlights of your experiences at the Tisch Center?
There have been countless highlights. The first happened during my freshman year when the Hospitality Business Society hosted a tour at Cote Korean Steakhouse, where I met an NYU alumnus, the director of operations of Cote. Her confidence and knowledge inspired me, so I reached out to her and landed my hostess job there. Recently I met Anthony Capuano, the CEO of Marriott International, at the Brener Lecture. It was an unforgettable experience to meet one of the giants in the hotel industry and to hear his thoughts on ongoing issues.

What have you learned from your academic studies at SPS?
I have gained much more than textbook knowledge from my classes. My professors emphasize hands-on experience. They taught me that we would continue to grow and become experts only by doing things, making mistakes, and then learning from the experience. I have also learned how this industry is built on friendships and mutual growth.

What do you hope to take away from serving as Student Ambassador for the Phocuswright Conference?
Knowing this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered only to a few students, I signed up without expecting to be chosen. I want to get to know the logistics behind operating a conference; listen in on panels, workshops, and discussions; expand my connections; and begin building my own career path and ideology.

Any advice for prospective students to SPS?
Never be afraid of reaching out and attending events available to you at SPS. I got my current job, met Mr. Capuano, and got chosen as a Phocuswright student ambassador only because I attended events and lectures and reached out afterward. Collectively, our professors have much better connections than we do as students, so make the most use of the opportunities they offer. And reach out to those who inspire you. It could be intimidating at first, but everyone in this industry is super down-to-earth and willing to help students because they were in our shoes once.

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