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
When financial accounts are hacked and money trails need to be followed, Rachel Hart goes into action. Rachel works as a global banking operations analyst, investigating cases of fraud for the wealth management arm of a leading financial institution on Wall Street.
“My team processes individual fraud claims and monitors global fraud activity daily. We focus on average and high net-worth individual accounts, but we also support a number of small businesses and subsidiaries of larger corporations. Our clients are domestic and international, which is both interesting and challenging,” she explains.
Rachel is a graduate of Ithaca College’s School of Business, but if you’d told her in high school she’d end up working in finance, she might have looked at you funny.
“I took AP economics as a senior in high school, and I actually hated it. I didn’t have a great experience,” Rachel says. Despite that, the international business program at IC caught her eye. She says she fell in love with the program during her very first semester.
“Being in the program and joining clubs in the business school really helped me discover how much I wanted to be in finance and business,” Rachel says.
She credits the hands-on experiences emphasized at Ithaca College for helping to prepare her for her career.
“I learned a lot in my classes, but being able to apply that to something more tangible made it really stick,” Rachel adds. “Being able to use what I learned in my finance classes in the investment club, and then eventually in the real-time portfolio management class, really helped me understand all of the theories we learned in the classroom, put that knowledge to use, and feel like a capable employee.”
Opportunities to apply your education in campus organizations and through internships are central to the Ithaca College experience.
“These opportunities teach you so many skills that a lot of students don’t get to build in other universities, especially in larger ones where you might get lost in the shuffle,” Rachel says.
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