Luyi Liu grew up in the “small city” of Dandong, China. (Small, in this case, is relative—the population of the city, located on the Yalu River across from North Korea, is 2.45 million, according to the 2010 census.)
Since she was little, Liu wanted to study abroad in the U.S. So, everything she did—the classes she took, the good grades in which she worked so hard to achieve—was done in hopes of one day finding an opportunity that afforded her that experience.
She had all her ducks in a row. And when she was presented with the chance to enroll in the 2+2 program—a dual-degree program in which students spend two years studying in their home country, and two years studying abroad, earning a degree from both universities—she jumped at the opportunity. The only problem? Studying abroad is expensive. So, her entire family, including parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents, chipped in to help Liu achieve her lifelong dream.
“Thanks to my family members’ generous contribution, I am able to afford this program and have the chance to finally experience life abroad,” she said. “I cannot make any accomplishment without their support and love; I am so lucky to be born into such a fabulous family.”
The decision to enroll at the Flagstaff Mountain campus was an easy one; the Shanghai Business School she attended in China has long partnered with NAU, and created pathways that make learning abroad accessible. Liu, who brought with her the American name “Lily” that she acquired from her first English teacher more than 15 years ago, enrolled in NAU’s Hotel and Restaurant Management program.
Over the course of two years at NAU, she gained experience both in and out of the classroom. She participated in the Job Shadow Program, allowing her to follow different hotel management teams to experience what the hospitality industry is really like. She also was one of several chosen to attend the Amangiri Site Visit trip, providing an opportunity to gain insight into resort operations. And, she continued to give her education her all, which earned her the Hyatt Hotels Arizona Group Scholarship and the NAU Academic Achievement Award.
“I love NAU, I love the life here, the people here, everything here. Every moment here is a precious memory for me,” she said. “But if I have to pick the most significant one, it is the moment when I was told that I was accepted to NAU’s MBA program and was awarded a graduate assistantship, which proves that all my dedication and hard work was worth it.”
Liu believes her NAU education will help pave the path for her future. After graduation, she plans to extend her two-year stay in Flagstaff to earn a master’s degree, with hopes of owning her own resort someday.
“NAU really broadened my horizons. It tells me there are so many opportunities that exist in this big world, and there are so many things waiting for me to explore. The future is full of uncertainty, but once we step up and move forward, nothing can get in the way of developing our bright future.”
Carly Banks | NAU Communications
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