Tourism major sees opportunities to help global economies through technology and cultural collaboration


May 10, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Diana Lizcano Hernandez says that frequent moves and three years living in China sparked her interest in tourism. In particular, she was fascinated by who decides what goes where in building tourism destinations. Ever since graduating high school, she knew she wanted to go into this field and is excited by the many different avenues she can take with her degree. Diana Lizcano Hernandez in grad cap and stole in front of Tempe campus Palm Walk Diana Lizcano Hernandez is the Spring 2018 outstanding graduate for ASU's School of Community Resources and Development. Download Full Image

Hernandez is the outstanding Spring 2018 graduate for the ASU School of Community Resources and Development. She is also a student in Barrett, The Honors College, where she worked with the city of Apache Junction to create a 10-year tourism plan.

Her research looks at the growing use of technology in tourism—specifically by millennials and independent travelers. For her honors thesis, Hernandez researched the needs of female solo travelers and created a personal tour-guide app to match them with local resources while also accounting for safety.

“The U.S. is very technology-driven — everything is on our cellphone. However, there are certain countries that are not there yet,” said Hernandez. “We need to look at how we can improve the use of technology to enhance the tourist experience.”

After graduation, she is pursuing a master’s in international affairs and global management at the ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management. Her goal is to work in consulting or planning to develop newly found tourist destinations in Asia and South America.

“I am highly passionate about the tourism industry and applying it as a tool for economic growth and multicultural collaboration,” said Hernandez.

You can read the full Q&A below:

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized that you wanted to be in this field? 

Answer: Growing up, we moved around a lot. I think that started my ability to quickly adapt to new environments, languages and people. I lived in Shanghai, China, for three years, and it sparked an interest in Chinese culture and multicultural collaboration. I’m very interested in who decides what goes where in building tourism destinations. Coming out of high school, I knew I wanted to go into that field. I’m particularly interested in planning and all of the details.

Once I got to ASU, I realized how much goes into planning. It got scarier, but I also saw that there are so many different avenues I can take with this degree. I could literally go into so many areas and have an impact.

Q: What is something that you learned during your time at ASU that surprised you or shaped your perspective?

A: One class that has had a huge impact is a tourism planning class that Dr. Evan Jordan taught — it looks at tourism destinations that have been most successful economically, culturally and socially. For example, there may be little thought on the cultural impacts of building a hotel on an island. On the other hand, some destinations look to the future and plan for longer-term success.

For my thesis with Barrett, The Honors College, I looked into female solo travelers specifically and creating an app that meets their demands. The goal is to match them with local destinations to show them around, while also accounting for safety. I did a lot of background research on millennials’ use of technology and their behavior, looking at women and traveling independently.

Q: What piece of advice would you give your past self when you were first starting at ASU?

A: Over the summer, I went to Australia and Fiji, which was probably one of the best experiences of my entire life. Take advantage of all of the opportunities that ASU offers.

Q: What’s next now that you have your degree?

A: This summer I’ll be doing an internship with a property management company that manages hotels. They didn’t have an internship program, but I reached out with a proposal. I revised it a couple of times. I’ll be their first intern. I’m super excited to be on board. I came up with the whole proposal and responsibilities on my own, and they’ve been very supportive.

Then I’ll be pursuing a master’s in international affairs and global management at the ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management. My dad is an alumnus, class of 2003. Eventually, I would like to work in consulting or planning to develop newly found tourist destinations in Asia and South America.  

Q: What is one issue that is close to your heart that you hope to help solve?

A: One of the biggest issues, that obviously one human being can’t fix, in the tourism industry is how companies build huge hotels in Third World countries and all of the money leaks back out. Locals end up getting 4 percent of the entire profit. I’d like to help bridge that gap. I’d like to help bring a local voice to gain a better understanding the cultural and social impacts.

Also, the U.S. is very technology-driven — everything is on our cellphone. However, there are certain countries that are not there yet. We need to look at how we can improve the use of technology to enhance the tourist experience.  

I am highly passionate about the tourism industry and applying it as a tool for economic growth and multicultural collaboration.

Written by Heather Beshears

 
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Engineering graduate student powers through illness

May 10, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Stefano Chang had a good job in his field and was one class away from a master’s degree in software engineering from Arizona State University.

Then his vision went wonky.

He saw double because of a tumor in his head. Work, school, and everything else came to a screeching halt as he went to Mayo Clinic for treatment.

While he was there he wondered if there was a way he could take his final class online. He asked Kevin Gary, the graduate program committee chair for software engineering, about it.

“I didn’t want to delay more than I already did,” said Chang, the first in his family to earn a college degree. “It was the only thing I could do in terms of moving on.”

While enduring eight-hour treatments, he hunched over his laptop, wrapping up his degree.

“It felt good,” he said.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I always knew I wanted to get into computers, and that’s what I did. I had zero programming experience coming in. I moved here when I was 15, and I didn’t know anything about this country. … My school didn’t offer anything.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: It takes a lot more effort to finish grad school, knowing that you already have a degree and might not necessarily need it. I already had a job; I was already working before I graduated. This doesn’t really give me a pay bump or anything like that. It’s a lot more than taking exams or reading books; it shows a lot of determination, that you can finish something that you started.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: My brother, my dad and I moved here (from Paraguay). I don’t think my dad finished high school. Nobody had an education, so to say, in my family. It was just me figuring it out. My high school counselor said, "Just apply." I applied — all local colleges. I got accepted to all three major ones. I was reading the brochure for ASU in computer science. It had a bullet point list of things they specialized in. None of the other colleges had it, so I thought, "OK — I’ll go to ASU.”

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Don’t quit. You’re going to look back and you’re going to say, "I was wise about that," once you get through it. It’s just like my treatment. I look back on it and say, "It was a piece of cake. Nothing." But at the time …

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The Brickyard building. That’s the computer science building.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I started my LLC while I was going through treatment. I didn’t want to waste (time usually spent in school) once I graduated. I thought, "I’ll start my own business and make it work." I took on some contract jobs. It’s a software consulting business.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I think getting autonomous cars to the point where they’re fully autonomous. I don’t think $40 million would be enough. If it’s fully autonomous it’s a lot safer.

Above photo: Master's degree in software engineering graduate Stefano Chang poses for a portrait outside the bookstore on April 20. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now

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