Meet a graduate student: Gizem Kilic

How did you find the School of Hotel Administration and what attracted you to this program?

Cornell is my dream school. I have known about the Hotel School since I was an undergrad in Turkey. The school’s reputation precedes it.

Another thing that attracted me to the program was the MS degree. The Hotel School offers two types of master’s degrees: research (MS) and professional (MMH). I decided to apply to the MS program, because I wanted to improve my research skills and, in the future, pursue a career in academia.

Describe your level of experience prior to coming to SHA.

Before Cornell, I studied tourism and hotel management, and gastronomy and culinary arts, at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, Turkey. My specialty was food and beverage. I became familiar with various areas of hotel operations through internships. I worked as a corporate leadership trainee in Grand Hyatt Istanbul, where my performance led to a supervisory position in event operations.

After two years of intensive professional experience, I shifted to academia as a research assistant for my former professor at Yeditepe University. My research was in sustainable development in food and beverage and tourism. I wrote a paper that was published in the booklet of the 18th General Assembly of International Experts of Fondazione Romualdo Del Bianco – Life Beyond Tourism, Florence, Italy. My work had demonstrated that I had the capacity to advance my research-methodology skills, and I believed it was the ideal time to continue my education at the graduate level.

My time at Cornell as a master’s student taught me a lot. My adviser and the sustainability courses I took here inspired me to apply to the PhD program. With an endorsement from my adviser, I was accepted into the program, and I transferred to it in fall 2017 without completing my MS degree.

Tell us about your research and the faculty you work with.

My adviser, Professor Linda Canina, is also on my committee. She is very direct and open with me. Her support and inspiration have gotten me through my first year and helped me shape my path.

My research interest is in sustainable tourism and finance, focusing on sustainable financial development in tourist destinations. In this research, I will also look at the impact of tourism and food-and-beverage operations on the ecosystem, green consumer behavior in hotels and restaurants, and ecological tourist experiences.

Where do you see yourself once you complete your PhD?

I hope to become a leading Turkish professor in the field of sustainable tourism—to continuously advance my knowledge and share findings and international experience within the Turkish tourism sector, and conduct professional training for leading professionals.

My overall goal will be to develop sustainable tourism as a mainstream curriculum within Turkish universities.

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