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Meet Stacey Elie: The graduate who landed on her feet after covid derailed her plans

Posted on 27/07/2021 by

ITC graduate Stacey Elie spent two months at Disney before the pandemic interrupted her exchange.

Stacey Elie is a wonderful recent ITC graduate who was living the dream, working at the Disney Exchange Program, when the pandemic broke out.

Despite this upset, Stacey managed to return to New Zealand and land an incredible new role in tourism thanks to her own hard work and ITC’s support. 

Learn a little more about Stacey’s journey, what she’s up to now, and her advice for students.

What made you decide to study with ITC in the first place?

I was doing my first year at the University of Auckland to study a double major in Psychology and Japanese. I later on realised that university was not for me to which my friend suggested maybe I should try studying travel and tourism because I really do love travelling, especially studying Japanese at the time, I wanted to visit Japan. After doing some research, my friend came across the ITC website and that’s where it all started. 

You studied levels 3 through to 5. What do you feel level 5 added to your skills and knowledge?

Level 5 taught me to be more open minded and to really bring out my creative side in terms of finding better ways to connect with others, as well as improving the travel and tourism industry by being more sustainable and really giving back to the industry by constantly coming up with new ideas as to how the industry could be improved and attract more people.

Level 5 did make me realise how much is going on in the world and how many countries rely on tourists to visit their countries as part of their income. It has made me understand that there are many aspects of tourism people are interested in, and that I would always be able to contribute to the travel and tourism industry with the things that I love to do, which are getting to know new people and immersing myself in different cultures and languages. 

You had just started the Disney Cultural Exchange when the pandemic began. Do you think you will be able to return?

Well the two months out of the six months I was supposed to be there was still an amazing experience for me to be a part of. I loved being able to explore where I was in America and visit all the different theme parks with my friends that I have made.

I do not think I would be able to take part in the exchange again anytime soon due to the corona virus and the visa. Although I am sad that my programme in America came to an end so quickly, I am still happy that I experienced two months of it. It will always be an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. 

What are you up to now that you’re back in NZ?

I recently moved to Queenstown as I got accepted for a full time job at the Onsen hot pools and I am very excited to start this new journey of my life. This would not have been possible without the experience and support from ITC, as well as the hard work I have put into studying levels 3 to 5.

This is my first step into the tourism industry and I wish anyone wanting to study at ITC good luck because these are the opportunities that will come your way!

Do you have any advice for those considering studying at ITC?

My advice for anyone wanting to study at ITC would be to just go for it and be open minded. Take every opportunity that comes your way and don’t be afraid to be different from anyone else.

Studying at ITC definitely has its challenges but there will always be tutors and your friends that will be an amazing support system to motivate you to keep going. I have been presented with so many opportunities while studying at ITC and for anyone who wants to study at ITC, you could receive the same and if not more opportunities that should be taken with confidence and no regrets! 


Are you ready to start study to work in an industry that will always need trained employees? Get in touch today to find out more about our courses and follow in Stacey’s footsteps.

Campus Study – 0800 TOURISM (0800 868747) or

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