Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Born in Ghana, West Africa, Piko Ewoodzie ’06 began learning about vastly different social structures when his family moved to the United States—first living in a small town in the Midwest and then in the South Bronx in New York City.
“My life’s story has been trying to understand different kinds of worlds,” says Piko. “Every time we went to a new place, it was a new chance for me to try to make sense of a new social world—new friends, new hierarchies, new definitions of what is cool and what is not cool.”
Knowing he wanted to study sociology, Piko discovered the opportunity to understand how different societies work on an even deeper level at Ithaca College. As part of the pioneering class of IC’s Martin Luther King Scholar Program, Piko was given the chance to travel, research global issues, and make an impact on how others see the world.
“Every year [in the MLK program] you design a project. You think about a research question, you go out of the country, you talk to people, you find answers, and then you come back and present to the school.”
With the MLK program, Piko went to Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica to learn what issues people face in other parts of the world. In a particularly eye-opening experience in Costa Rica, Piko spent a week with kids who were playing together at a gym. The children were from different areas, but they had a common connection. “Toward the end of the week we realized that these kids know each other because they live on the only land their families can afford, and every six months their houses get flooded. It just blew us away.”
Since graduation, Piko has continued to research sociological issues as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. For his dissertation, Piko went to Jackson, Mississippi, to examine how African Americans of different socioeconomic backgrounds acquire, prepare, and consume what they eat. He lived with people to discuss and experience their relationships with food firsthand—doing the same type of work he did as an MLK scholar at IC.
In addition to his research, Piko is teaching sociology at Kenyon College, inspiring a new generation of students to examine global issues. “I think both in the classroom and outside the classroom—really all of what I’m doing now—is just a continuation of the things I did at Ithaca.
“I want to teach college students how to get excited about the complications of the world.”
>> More on this story: The Martin Luther King Scholar Program
How do you bring accounting and finance concepts to life? Try balancing and allocating a real $400,000 budget, for starters. When Brian Keefe became vice president of finance for the Student Government Association in his sophomore year, he did just that, drawing on what he was learning in his classes to make big—and much needed—changes.
“I ended up reworking the entire allocation system and writing a 34-page handbook,” he says. “Sharing the new policies and regulations with IC’s student organizations helped them come up with better budget proposals and better prepared the budget committee itself to allocate money more consistently.”
As a senior, Brian found another golden opportunity to combine his love of number crunching with his passion for running.
“I wandered into the Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company looking for a run-of-the-mill sales position. But after reviewing my résumé, IC alum Ian Golden [’99] made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: organizing the company’s finances, making inventory projections, talking with professional accountants, and analyzing account ledgers were all part of the job description. It was really powerful to go into the classroom and then take that knowledge back to the running store and apply it to a real company,” he says.
After graduation Brian took some time to pursue his dream of biking across the U.S. But thanks to his Ithaca experiences and a supportive alumni network, his accounting career is already off and running.
>> More on this story: "Running the Numbers" - Fuse
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