Master of Tourism student uses her degree to explore the world and make change

Maria Vasquez Arguello’s Master of Tourism degree has most definitely given her the travel bug.

From Australian field trips to the Great Ocean Road, Tasmania and Sydney, as well as upcoming international visits to Fiji and Berlin, Maria has made sure she sees it all. And, according to her, that is the beauty of Monash’s Master of Tourism degree. 

“Being a student at Monash has meant that I have gotten the best of the best. Monash offers a wide range of workshops and activities to help you advance in your career,” Maria said.

“In each field trip, we have key speakers who have a lot of experience in the tourism industry, and we have been able to interact with them and get to know all the insides of the tourism industry.”

But while her travel opportunities have been extensive, so early into her degree, Maria realised that studying tourism does not simply involve travelling.

“That is just a very small proportion of it. Understanding global mobility and its implications is how tourism should be perceived.” Maria said.

“From cruise companies to the development of destinations, tourism has a wide range of areas that can be studied and researched. It involves international relations, environment and social sciences.”

Maria, who moved to Australia from Colombia, did not initially find herself on a tourism career path. She studied medicine for two years, before she realised that a career as a doctor did not align with her ultimate aspirations.

“I wanted to study something where I could learn about different cultures but create a social and economic impact at the same time,” Maria said.

“I really enjoy having contact with people, so I thought tourism could offer me everything that I wanted. And so far, it has done that and more.”

The interdisciplinary nature of the degree was a major attraction.

“The Master of Tourism investigates the different areas where tourism can be studied. All the units are different from each other but linked at the same time, which means that you really get a wider knowledge of the tourism industry,” Maria said.

“The teachers are all experts in their field and top researchers. They are amazing tutors and mentors who will certainly help you and give you the right tools to achieve what you want in your career.”

Monash’s Master of Tourism prides itself on being Australia’s leading, longest-running and most innovative industry-focused specialist postgraduate tourism program. It is specifically designed to prepare students for careers within the tourism industry, or in government agencies concerned with sustainability, planning and the environment.

When she’s not jet-setting around Australia and the world, Maria is involved in Monash’s co-curricular programs and activities. Particularly, the Arts Graduate Leadership Program, which she said has helped her grow both professionally and personally as she “develops the skills to be a leader in future work, and to create relationships based on trust.”

Maria hopes to use tourism as a tool to assist in the development of emerging economies.

“I come from a country that is under a post-conflict environment, so I would like to help my country to do better and to be part of that development that we are hoping to achieve, post-conflict,” Maria said.

“I believe that through the appropriate tools and strategies we can develop and practice tourism in a sustainable, ethical and responsible way that will lead to improving the country´s economy.”

And her advice to students?

“Take advantage of the opportunities that the university and the program give you,” Maria said.

“Fully engage in the program and be passionate about it. Challenges will come along the way, but it is important to be perseverant and face them.”

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