Ami Nagase lives in Newark, Delaware and works as a freelance publicist in addition to pursuing her M.S. in hospitality business management at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. Nagase, who plans to graduate in 2023, shared her experience choosing the Lerner Master’s program and how it has impacted her both personally and professionally.
Lerner: Why did you go back to pursue your graduate degree? Why did you choose the Lerner College for your studies?
Nagase: I had an opportunity to attend the graduate school’s hospitality management course at the University of Central Florida which was sponsored by the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA). It was just a one semester sponsored program. As I learned, I wanted to gain more knowledge about hospitality management in the United States. Therefore, I decided to apply to a graduate school to earn a master’s degree in hospitality management. Lerner College was the most helpful following up on my application and also offered me an assistantship. Therefore, I chose to join Lerner College!
Lerner: What did you learn through this opportunity that you wouldn’t have learned anywhere else?
Nagase: We can gain knowledge from practical classes and assignments in the hospitality industry that they can use immediately upon returning to the field. To be honest, the assignments are not easy, but I have found that as my understanding has improved, I can discuss real world issues in more depth. I am grateful to my professors for their rigorous guidance. I believe that the professors in our department are one of the best, with extensive field experience!
Lerner: What is an example of a course or concept that you were able to apply directly to your life and/or career.
Nagase: The concept that I have in my life is to become “sustainable.” My goal is to have a job that I want to be involved in my lifetime, have a financially stable life, grow as a person and ultimately make my life worth living. To achieve this goal, I felt that I needed to study again after I turned 30, and I decided to challenge myself while I still had something I wanted to do so that I would not regret it someday.
I have been working in the hospitality industry for over 13 years since I was a new graduate from undergraduate. I love my job, but to step up, I felt like now is the right time to go back to school once again to gain the knowledge and expand the connection in the industry worldwide. Learning at Lerner College helps me achieve my lifetime concept and expand my connection! I feel it’s the perfect place for me.
Lerner: Can you describe an important connection you have made through your graduate program?
Nagase: I made good friends that I can connect with for a lifetime, and share even the hard times with when facing a challenge. They encourage me to challenge myself every day.
I also made a connection with the professors who are also my mentors. They are the professionals who I can rely on even after graduation.
Lerner: If you were to describe your classmates in one word, what would that be?
Nagase: Inspiring. My classmates always inspire me a lot. They are in different situations and from various countries. It is an excellent opportunity to exchange opinions from different perspectives based on their personal experience. In addition, they always help me when I am struggling with my family situation or my assignments. I am further inspired by my classmates, who are always willing to help others.
Lerner: How do you balance your career with your studies?
Nagase: I am adding one more key word to this: parenting. I am here with my 5-year-old son while my husband stays in Japan for his work. Although my son is not a baby, it is still very challenging for me to balance between my study, work and parenting, especially since I am not living in my home country.
Of course, I will do my best in all of them, but I am not afraid to share what I do not know or understand and to ask for help. Sometimes, people think it is embarrassing to tell someone that they do not know. But it is important to just admit it and ask one more time. I used to not be good at getting the support from others, but now I figured that it is not a bad thing to do. You can be supportive to someone with the skill that you are good at. This is how I balance all three.
Lerner: Fill in this sentence: “My graduate program helped me become…”
Nagase: Confident in my career, because I feel my knowledge is strengthened by learning in the program.
Lerner: What was the most impactful hands-on project or case competition that you were able to participate in?
Nagase: In addition to my graduate program in hospitality business management, I am honored to be joining the Summer Founders Pre-Accelerator program put on by Horn Entrepreneurship this summer. This will be another big challenge for me. I am confident that by participating in this program, I will be able to build and brush up on my own personality for my future career.
Lerner: What are your plans or next steps for the future?
Nagase: After my graduation, I want to contribute to building sustainable destinations in the tourism industry. I have always worked for a company, but one thing I have always wished to try is to start my own company. After graduate school and the Horn Entrepreneurship program, I feel like it would be the right time to start! I will continue to strive to achieve my mission in this industry.