Switch in majors speaks volumes for GCU alum

After her mother couldn't speak after an illness, GCU alumna Connie Tsang, who is Ms. United States 2023, knew she wanted to help children who have speech issues.

The holiday season marked a turning point in Connie Tsang’s life more than 10 years ago.

What was supposed to be a festive time turned into a challenge that inspired her to help others.

After seeing her mother unable to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, the fashion marketing student changed her major and earned a bachelaor's degree in speech and hearing sciences from Arizona State University.

But she did not stop there. She wanted to make a bigger impact by starting a business designed to help those with speech issues.

Thanks to Grand Canyon University, Tsang earned her master’s degree in business administration management and started Desert Developmental Services in Scottsdale.

“Not only did I learn the ins and outs of creating a business and owning a business, it really gave me the connections that I also really needed in order to do so,” Tsang said. “It’s helped me in a lot of ways, and I think part of the reason why I’m so successful now in my business is because of my journey at GCU.”

Connie Tsang has devoted her life to working with children.

“I thought the MBA program was necessary,” said Tsang, who praised her GCU professors.

It is a remarkable transformation from her undergraduate days as a fashion major who later became Miss Arizona United States 2019 and Ms. United States 2023.

Tsang, who can speak fluently in Chinese-Cantonese, already worked as a mentor for the Be a Leader and Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations, but participating in pageants and traveling around the country strengthened her skills with people.

“It taught me a lot of confidence,” said Tsang, who offers pageantry training to prospective contestants. “If I did not have pageantry experience under my belt, I don't think I would be able to be on this phone call with you, to be able to speak with you about my experiences and all that good stuff. I had always been a very shy kid growing up, and I've never wanted to talk to anybody. Pageantry really opened me up, and now it gives me a stage and an audience. Give me a microphone, and I can talk your ears off.

Once a fashion major, Connie Tsang changed her focus to speech therapy.

“Not to sound like a broken record, but I’ve made connections. I've met so many incredible women who are so successful in their field, who have been able to help me with my business and with anything that I need help with in pageantries, as well.”

Tsang, the oldest of three children, saw a need to help others once her mother took ill and was readmitted into a hospital after surgery complications.

“She was actually sedated for about two, three months,” Tsang recalled. “During that time she was sedated, she missed Thanksgiving and Christmas. It definitely was a bittersweet moment when she woke up but actually was too weak to speak. I had to go through speech therapy with her. Watching her go through all of that made me realize that was what I wanted to be.”

Connie Tsang credited GCU's master's program for enabling her to open a business helping children.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she earned her speech language pathology assistant license from the Arizona Department of Health Services to practice before enrolling at GCU.

She is consumed with helping children afflicted with developmental and intellectual disabilities throughout Maricopa County and hopes an expansion of her business to South Phoenix will help address that.

"I definitely would say I dedicated pretty much my entire my entire academic career, professional career, and pretty much life to speech therapy,” Tsang said.

GCU News senior writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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