December 5, 2018

EFTI is very happy to announce that two of our PhD candidates, Hongping Zhang and Yuhua Xu were recognized within the University of Florida International Center (UFIC) with a Certification of Outstanding Merit. Both Hongping and Yuhua were recognized for their work for the College of Health an Human Performance, specifically within the department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism.

HP at UFIC Award ceremony 2018.jpg


Hongping Zhang is a Doctoral student in the department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism where she holds various positions ranging from a study abroad assistant and researcher for the TRSM UF Down Under Program to a Teaching Assistant within the department where she teaches undergraduate courses in tourism and hospitality. Zhang’s current research interest is Educational Tourism which is fueled from her involvement of the study abroad programs as well as teaching courses while on campus. After asking what motivates her throughout her research process, she responded with:

“I love this department - being able to do what I enjoy and getting paid for it is all you can truly ask for. The Faculty and Staff are my biggest supporters as they provide me the tools and real-world experience so I can put what I have learned to the test. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had through this group and I am happy to represent EFTI and RPT!”

Melody receiving award from Dean of UFIC 2018.jpg

(Melody) Yuhua Xu is a third year PhD student and research assistant for the Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sports Management with research interests in Destination Resilience and Tourism Marketing. Her research is seeking responsive solutions for destinations and communities in face of various disturbance and changes. Last year one of Xu’s empirical studies won “Best Graduate Research Award” from the Travel and Tourism Research Association which helped narrow down her research interests to the empirical world. Aside from her work, Xu also assists in the settlement of incoming international visiting scholars to the RPT/TRSM department. As for her motivations, she said:

“Initially driven by curiosity, I came to academia. I am always willing to explore cutting edge problems in tourism, and provide global travelers with safer and reliable destinations.”


The award ceremony was hosted by the University of Florida International Center where the dean of the program handed out the certification of Outstanding Merit. This nomination process is quite extensive but was a surprise to the students once finally being congratulated and acknowledged. The UFIC says,

“One of the highest priority goals for UF is to expand its international outlook and impact in education, research and service.  UF’s leadership has placed a special emphasis on internationalization because it is a direct outgrowth of UF’s mission and reflects the importance of globalization in the world today.  Our international students are a key element as we pursue these goals.  While international students adjust to a different language, educational system and cultural environment, they also share with the UF community their language, educational system and culture“ (pulled from http://bit.ly/UFIC1819).

EFTI is very excited to have some of our students recognized for their diligence and work for the department, community, as well as the state of Florida.