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.
Life after graduation can take a lot of twists. Julie Perng’s degree in organizational communication from Ithaca College is a long way from the Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics she’s pursuing. But her journey into that field began as a member of the Martin Luther King Scholar Program at IC.
“The MLK program changed my life and who I am profoundly,” Julie says. “It was a huge part of my college experience.”
Julie’s path began with a journey to Brazil, her first international trip as an MLK scholar. Her social justice research—a key part of the MLK program—was on homophobia; from there she took a broader interest in social issues. As a sophomore, she received funding to attend a conference on LGBT issues. At that conference she met some people concerned with fair trade, which became a new passion.
Julie went on to found a fair-trade club on campus, and she focused the final two years of her MLK program research on trade. The next major twist in Julie’s route to her Ph.D. was a Fulbright scholarship to study in China.
Julie spent three years in China, first researching rural-to-urban migration and ecotourism and then working for the Nature Conservancy—making use of her communications degree. Later she moved back to the United States and began working with various federal agencies as part of a project management and consulting firm.
“My company funded graduate work, so I started taking classes in applied economics because I knew that’s where I wanted to go.” She is focusing her thesis on ecotourism and recently conducted exploratory research in Costa Rica, a country she had visited before with the MLK program.
“I really need to understand the history of tourism in Costa Rica. I also need to understand other aspects of the country that will be important for my analysis and the methodologies I want to use.”
Julie credits the interdisciplinary focus of the MLK program—and Ithaca College—with providing perspectives that come in handy despite the fact that economics is perceived as being all about numbers.
“In the end, even though I’m doing economics, math, and statistics, I still have to explain the human element to my stories.”
And though her academic background isn’t the same as others in her new field, she doesn’t see that as a setback.
“Ithaca College began my road to where I am today. I had a winding path to get where I am, but I’m tackling everything, even when I have limitations. I’m prepared in terms of doing research and writing and independent thinking.”
>> More on this story: Ithaca College recognized as a top producer of Fulbright students
Pianists make music with keyboards. Engineers use mixing consoles. Thanks to IC’s sound recording technology program, Shalini Gandhi ’11 can do both.
“I was a pre-med student in Australia when I decided sound recording was something I really wanted to do and America would be the best place to learn it,” Shalini said. “So I took two years off, worked and saved, and made my way to Ithaca.”
Fortunately, Shalini was already an accomplished pianist, because at IC, studying audio engineering requires majoring in performance.
“After doing all the things performance majors do, I had to find free time to get into the studio. As it turned out, I was quite happy recording until four in the morning because recording was my passion.”
The console Shalini spent four years training on—while being paid as an Ithaca College recording services engineer—was the same she uses now, working for WireWorld Studio in Nashville. Plus, the people who taught her, like her current colleagues, were seasoned professionals, among them Alex Perialas, a Grammy-nominated audio engineer and producer with 131 albums to his credit.
“In addition to teaching us the technology,” Shalini says, “Alex gave us insights into the business end of the industry.”
Perialas, whose recording credits include Brian Wilson and Johnny Dowd, helped secure Shalini a curriculum-required internship, at a studio in Nashville, and introduced her to a former colleague, who offered her a job the summer before her senior year.
“This industry isn’t one where you just wave your degree and expect people to hire you,” Shalini says. “Alex’s connections got my foot in the door, and from there, I showed people that IC taught me how things work, not just how to make things work.”
Knowing how to perform didn’t hurt either.
“As a student, I complained about spending so much time sight singing and playing the piano, but my boss is an engineer through and through, and he’s found me useful because I can talk knowledgeably to musicians. Fortunately IC faculty pushed me and expected a lot out of me.”
>> More on this story: Recording Services of the School of Music
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