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International student backs dreams with hard work, persistence

Elizabeta Ballanca is a W. P. Carey Outstanding Graduating Senior finalist for fall 2022

Student's portrait on Old Main stairs on Tempe campus

November 28, 2022

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates

Five years ago, in Italy, Elizabeta Ballanca was learning English and had insecurities about attending a major university in a foreign country. But she had three personality traits that worked in her favor — she wasn’t afraid to ask for help, had no qualms about asking a lot of questions and hard work didn’t scare her.

“Throughout this journey, I stayed hours and hours in libraries, tutoring centers and office meetings with professors,” said Ballanca, who is half-Italian and Albanian. “You might ask, ‘Was it easy?’ No, it was not. There were a lot of ups and downs, and I questioned if I would ever be good enough to be successful.”

These days, almost everything is on the upswing for Ballanca. In addition to making the W. P. Carey School of Business dean’s list eight times, she is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and recently won a Faculty Choice Speed Selling competition at the W. P. Carey School.

Outside of the classroom, Ballanca has created a line of women’s wear, does marketing for a Scottsdale-based skin health company and volunteers with several non-profit organizations, organizing events, donation drives and giving of her time. And next week, she will graduate summa cum laude, earning her the honor of Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior Award finalist for fall 2022.

It's an honor that’s well-deserved, said John P. Eaton, associate chair in the W. P. Carey School's Department of Marketing.

“She is a committed student with tremendous talent, drive, and intellectual curiosity,” Eaton said. “Elizabeta excels inside and, most importantly, outside her comfort zone. She is a highly principled student who is a role model for others.”

ASU News recently spoke to Ballanca about her college experience and plans.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study business?

Answer: After I finished my law degree, I realized that I was a more business-oriented person. I loved interacting with people and giving business and creative ideas. I always listen to podcasts and watch movies with people in the business industry, and I am always thrilled. I remember advising my friend on her first fashion boutique. I helped her create strategies to increase the store's visibility through social media and micro-influencers that allowed the business to be more appealing to customers. Then this was my "aha" moment when my mind was working on creating ideas and things as a businessperson. After that, I decided to combine my two passions for business and creativity when I chose to pursue marketing.

Q: What’s something worthwhile you learned while at ASU?

A: I learned from ASU how important it is to be motivated and achieve your goals. ASU allowed me to meet knowledgeable professors from different backgrounds who taught so many things from their experiences; from their classes, I learned how to communicate effectively, lead and be part of collaborative projects.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because it's a very inclusive university for students worldwide, and W. P. Carey is one of the best schools of business in the world.

Q: What’s the best advice for those still in school?

A: I recommend studying and working hard. Do not let disappointments and fear overcome your success and passion in life. Believe in yourself; you will achieve great things!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus?

A: I have so many spots on campus, but my favorite one is the Hayden Library on the Tempe campus, where I spent most of my time studying or reading books. Having lunch in front of the Old Main building is another.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan after graduation would be to spend time with my family and enjoy time together. Then I want to start working full time in marketing, and be a creator and innovator of new marketing ideas.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: That would be great to have this kind of budget to help the community. If I had to choose one problem, I would love to help fully fund scholarships for students in need to attend college. I would also provide books, supplies and transportation. I would love to give members of our community the ability to study and help their families.

Top photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

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