Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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An Ithaca College education has Mike Potter’s career off to a fast start. Disrupto, a digital product development firm that Mike cofounded, has a client list that includes names like Samsung and the New York Knicks. In the world of digital communications, Disrupto is a rising star.
At IC, Mike was a triple major who interned with AOL and with Industrial Light and Magic, Star Wars creator George Lucas’s visual effects studio. He once pitched a business plan to Disney CEO and Ithaca alumna Bob Iger over lunch.
As a Park scholar in Ithaca’s Roy H. Park School of Communications, Mike helped launch Megaphone, a student project that provided communication support to nonprofits. He also won Ithaca’s first CellFlix video contest—a competition that challenged students to create the best 30-second short film using a cell phone video camera—with his film Cheat.
It’s that rich palette of opportunity at Ithaca, Mike reports, that’s been the key to his success. “The biggest thing Ithaca did was expose me to different experiences. I got a great education in the broad range of things I needed to become an entrepreneur and start my own business. I’m totally living my career goals, and I’m incredibly happy doing it.”
Plumpy’nut is a peanut butter paste fortified with vitamins. Because it can reverse the ravages of malnutrition in as few as two weeks, Doctors Without Borders dubbed the lifesaving concoction "a revolution in nutritional affairs." Integrated marketing communications major Elizabeth Stoltz ’13 first read about Plumpy’nut in high school.
"I'd been disheartened about the tragic effects of childhood malnutrition in Africa and was stunned that such an easy solution existed," she said. "I wanted be part of that solution."
So she organized a 5K walk that raised $5,000 to support Plumpy’nut distribution in Ethiopia. Inspired by that success, Elizabeth established Food for Thought, a nonprofit that was initially dedicated to raising money for more Plumpy’nut deliveries. After doing summer relief work in Ethiopia, Elizabeth arrived at IC and founded a student chapter of Food for Thought. The college provided fertile ground for her organization.
"Being a Park scholar, I was surrounded by students who shared my commitment to improving the lives of others," says Elizabeth, referring to a scholarship program at IC that couples academic achievement with community service. "As a freshman, I was already implementing classroom lessons in marketing and public relations to make a social impact."
That impact has broadened.
"Every week, students pitch causes they feel Food for Thought can advance," she said. "Besides two local Plumpy’nut walks, which raised our total support to $20,000, Food for Thought has supported orphanages in Russia, Peru, and Nicaragua. We also organized a cupcake sale that raised $1,600, the cost of a one-year scholarship for a student at a school in India. Starting with five people on the executive board, Food for Thought now has a full house at rush nights."
Elizabeth’s relief efforts have garnered national recognition. As her junior year draws to a close, she is one of 162 American college students to be named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow. Bestowed by Campus Compact, a coalition of college and university presidents, the award honors undergraduates who engage their fellow students in civic and social responsibilities.
Ironically, as word spreads about Elizabeth’s leadership ability, she feels it’s time, with her senior year approaching, to step down as president of Food for Thought and make way for younger leadership—the first transition, she hopes, of many.
"After I graduate, I’ll be looking at bigger PR firms in Washington, D.C., as good places to integrate relief work with public relations skills,” she said. “But wherever I go, Plumpy’nut and Food for Thought will be in my blood. In 15 years, I want to come back and be blown away by how far IC students have taken the organization."
>> More on this story: Student Organizations at IC
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