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.
There are no bogeys when it comes to finding a major in college. So when Adam Karnish switched from biology to chemistry and then to physics during his first two years at Ithaca College, he was never in danger of going over par.
The lifelong golfer’s fondness for math and science eventually drew him to Ithaca’s physics department. “I’ve always been a logical thinker, and physics is the study of how things work, so that really interested me,” he says.
The summer before his senior year, Adam joined an Ithaca College/Cornell research team studying the composition of an asteroid. The project required remotely accessing the controls of a telescope in Hawaii to do some of the work.
For his senior research project, Adam turned his attention to a different flying object: the golf ball. The real goal was to develop his knowledge of computer modeling software, but he took the opportunity to apply it to something he enjoyed.
After graduation, Adam landed a job with the United States Golf Association, where he now works to define individual course ratings and handicaps using statistical analysis and linear regression—skills he honed in Ithaca’s physics department.
“Within the first 10 years, a new golf course goes through big changes,” Adam says. “Trees, grasses, speed of the green—it evolves dramatically.” Because of that, a course needs to be rated at least three times in its first 10 years of existence, he says, and then once every 10 years after.
Theoretical scores produced from the course rating are compared to actual golfers’ scores to determine the course handicap. Those results are fed back into the course rating system.
“If the score is affected more by shots near the green, or by the difficulty of the contours of the green, that information needs to be weighed more heavily to reflect the actual scores made by players,” Adam says.
Adam also teaches course rating and handicap systems at golf courses around the country. Giving research presentations as a student helped prepare him for this aspect of the job, too.
“One thing I really learned at Ithaca was how to speak in front of a group of people and explain my thoughts clearly, in an organized manner, to convey whatever message I'm trying to bring to the audience,” he says.
>> More on this story: How to Get Involved in Research
I entered Ithaca College having no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Then Jeff Furman—an Ithaca local known as “the ampersand” at the famous ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s—spoke in one of my classes. He talked about Ben & Jerry’s and an amazing way of doing business that I had never heard of before. I became inspired and engulfed in the way Ben & Jerry’s does business, in their philosophy on giving back to the community and in their belief that businesses don’t have to be run solely based on making a profit. It was then I decided, “I want to be a part of this.”
For four years after graduating, I worked at the Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont. I became half of a two-person team and the company’s official “PR chick,” working with the integrated marketing and social mission teams. Often other companies would turn to us to find out how Ben & Jerry’s is so successful at being such a “good” company. That’s when I realized that there were few resources available to help for-profit companies looking to embrace corporate social and environmental responsibility.
Being exposed to Jeff Furman’s business philosophy, studying so many different types of companies while at Ithaca College, and experiencing values-led business at Ben & Jerry’s, I realized my passion for this kind of work. I want to see every single company in the world doing business in a responsible way, in a way that isn’t hurting people, continuing the poverty cycle, or harming the environment but proactively improving local and global communities.
That’s why I started Socially Good Business, a firm dedicated to helping companies incorporate values into their sustainable business models and consumer communication campaigns. My company also helps nonprofits partner with for-profits by creating proposals and packaged ideas that for-profits can use to engage consumers and enhance the company’s efforts toward social responsibility. This is the next generation of business, an evolution of society, and this movement is just starting to rev up. There are only a few other companies like mine in the country. My experience at Ithaca gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed to get a job at one of the most beloved global brands in the world—the very company that pioneered this movement—and that’s what gives my company an edge over the competition.
Consumers are starting to demand that companies do business in a different way, in a way that respects the planet and the people on it. Companies are seeing a demand for this better business model and are starting to change. But a lot of them don’t know how—and that’s what Socially Good Business is here for.
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