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.
Ithaca College offers more than 100 academic programs. When Dan Leibel listed the ones that attracted him, he came up with 18.
“I wasn’t undecided,” he said. “I just had too many things I wanted to do. I needed to expand my boundaries and see what I really liked.”
Because the Exploratory Program allows students to take courses in any of IC’s five schools before declaring a major, Dan had the chance to investigate his varied interests.
“The Exploratory Program relieved my anxiety about not knowing what to study because it let me pick classes earlier, and that kept me on track to graduate. Being an exploratory student at IC is way different from being undeclared somewhere else.”
During his first year—as he took classes in biology, politics, literature, philosophy, and general psychology in addition to the required freshman seminar—Dan discovered another Exploratory Program feature: a dedicated advising staff.
“At the end of my first semester, I was leaning toward politics but still thinking of speech pathology, so my advisor suggested two speech-path requirements: Communications Disorders and Developmental Psychology. As it turned out, those two courses fit me better than any of the others because they studied how people work. So I decided to major in psychology, which wasn’t on my original list.”
The “fit” Dan discovered led him to blend the science of the mind with human behavior. He took courses in neuroscience to gain a better understanding of the brain’s biological processes while also doing research about peoples' personality characteristics.
As part of the psychology department’s Humor Research Team, Dan investigated self-reflection and humor by studying two types of people—those who enjoy being laughed at and those who fear it—to identify personality traits that help predict the differences between the two groups.
“Humor’s something we use in all ranges of our social interactions, but there are people who don’t like it and who don’t function well around it. That made me realize there’s so much out there we don’t know, especially about the way people operate.”
As a senior at IC, Dan was accepted into a Ph.D. program in human services psychology at the University of Maryland to pursue a dual concentration in behavioral medicine and clinical psychology.
“I want to find out all the things that people don’t yet know about themselves—about the way they talk to each other, the way they think, the way they behave. I want to keep exploring,” Dan says.
The story of documentary filmmaker Jeremy Levine’s rise to professional success reads a little like a movie script itself. During the summer between his sophomore and junior years, he traveled to Arizona with former classmate Landon Van Soest ’04 to produce a 10-minute short about tensions along the U.S.-Mexican border for an IC film class. Realizing their project was worthy of a full-length documentary, Jeremy and Landon slept in cars; interviewed outlaw pastors, impoverished immigrants, and armed vigilantes; spent a year editing their work and then realized: We have a film. Now what?
“We were faced with a real lesson in distribution,” Jeremy says. “It was part of the surreal experience of being a college sophomore covering a story that hadn’t attracted any national media. Trying to do things well and messing up and starting over again were invaluable parts of my education.”
Jeremy and Landon’s film, Walking the Line, ended up playing at more than 2,000 film festivals internationally and winning a human rights award at one of them. The experience also led to forming Transient Pictures, a production company whose clients include the Sundance Channel and Mother Jones. Among Jeremy and Landon’s recent projects is Good Fortune. An examination of international relief efforts in Africa, the film premiered on PBS’s POV series where it won a 2011 News & Documentary Emmy Award. It has also won the Silverdocs Witness Award, and was an official selection of the 2009 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.
“If I had spent the first few years of college with no hands-on production experience, it would have been impossible to make the transition from student to professional so quickly,” Jeremy says. “IC offers incredible opportunities. If you really want to do something, put your mind to it and it can happen.”
>> More on this story: "A Conversation With Jeremy Levine" - FLEFF Blog
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