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NASCAR events are a thrilling part of the American experience. But while fans root for their favorite drivers, not many consider the work that takes place long before the first engine revs. That’s where Jusan Hamilton ’13 is in the driver’s seat.
As an account executive for industry operations at NASCAR, Jusan is part of a team responsible for keeping races on track—managing communications, working with sponsors, and traveling to events around the country. But long before his first trip to Daytona, Jusan was racing around a dirt track in upstate New York.
Jusan’s talent led him to compete in go-kart and stock car races up and down the East Coast throughout his high school years. As graduation approached, Jusan set his sights on professional racing—but he was thinking outside the lanes.
“After I realized I wouldn’t be able to race in the top series in NASCAR, I decided that I wanted to work on the business side of the sport,” says Jusan.
His search for a college that would help him reach his goals led to Ithaca, where he worked toward dual degrees in sociology and integrated marketing communications (IMC).
“My two degrees showed me completely different aspects of the business world and of life in general. They really prepared me to make my own path in my career,” Jusan says.
“Sociology allows you to better interpret what you’re putting out there—how it’s going to affect different groups of people, and how they’re going to see it. From a public relations standpoint, sociology is really useful.
“Marketing and advertising are a big part of what makes the sport go ’round. There are communications aspects with the sponsors, the race teams, the track teams, and the corporate side. The IMC major encompassed everything I hoped to do.”
Jusan’s drive to work in professional racing—along with an education that combined skills and knowledge specific to his career goals—led to three internships in the industry followed by a full-time position in communications at NASCAR soon after graduation. Already rising through the ranks, Jusan is on the inside track toward his career goals.
“I love working for NASCAR; I love working in the industry. My goal is to continue to work my way up.”
Born in Ghana, West Africa, Piko Ewoodzie ’06 began learning about vastly different social structures when his family moved to the United States—first living in a small town in the Midwest and then in the South Bronx in New York City.
“My life’s story has been trying to understand different kinds of worlds,” says Piko. “Every time we went to a new place, it was a new chance for me to try to make sense of a new social world—new friends, new hierarchies, new definitions of what is cool and what is not cool.”
Knowing he wanted to study sociology, Piko discovered the opportunity to understand how different societies work on an even deeper level at Ithaca College. As part of the pioneering class of IC’s Martin Luther King Scholar Program, Piko was given the chance to travel, research global issues, and make an impact on how others see the world.
“Every year [in the MLK program] you design a project. You think about a research question, you go out of the country, you talk to people, you find answers, and then you come back and present to the school.”
With the MLK program, Piko went to Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica to learn what issues people face in other parts of the world. In a particularly eye-opening experience in Costa Rica, Piko spent a week with kids who were playing together at a gym. The children were from different areas, but they had a common connection. “Toward the end of the week we realized that these kids know each other because they live on the only land their families can afford, and every six months their houses get flooded. It just blew us away.”
Since graduation, Piko has continued to research sociological issues as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. For his dissertation, Piko went to Jackson, Mississippi, to examine how African Americans of different socioeconomic backgrounds acquire, prepare, and consume what they eat. He lived with people to discuss and experience their relationships with food firsthand—doing the same type of work he did as an MLK scholar at IC.
In addition to his research, Piko is teaching sociology at Kenyon College, inspiring a new generation of students to examine global issues. “I think both in the classroom and outside the classroom—really all of what I’m doing now—is just a continuation of the things I did at Ithaca.
“I want to teach college students how to get excited about the complications of the world.”
>> More on this story: The Martin Luther King Scholar Program
When Sarah Brylinsky started her freshman year at IC, she’d never heard of sustainability. Now, as the living laboratory manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sarah’s role on campus is to make sure students and faculty understand sustainability and have the tools and resources they need to incorporate sustainability into their courses and campus life.
“Where I am right now is a natural progression that started my freshman year when I took a first-year seminar called Introduction to Sustainability,” Sarah said. “The seminar showed how people, profits, and the planet interlock. I saw how I could be involved in social and civic justice and feel empowered. I had a path forward.”
Applying lessons learned in the classroom, Sarah introduced sustainability practices in Ithaca’s residence halls, developed a campus-wide student climate movement, and co-organized a NATO advanced research workshop on the role of environmental security in higher education. Her efforts earned her the 2008 Student Sustainability Leadership Award, a national honor given annually by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Sarah received the award the same year she graduated from IC with a bachelor’s in communication management and design. She had four job offers: “Four universities were looking for a full-time sustainability coordinator. Their offers were clearly based on the sustainability projects I’d done at IC.”
After launching a successful career leading sustainability initiatives in higher education, Sarah decided it was vital for her to continue her own education. First considering graduate programs in climate and environmental science, she discovered a program at Ithaca that more closely fit her goals—the master of science in communications innovation.
“I started my career not because I wanted to be a climate scientist but because I wanted to communicate in new ways. I want to make sure students in this country graduate with an understanding of sustainability as a fundamental part of their education. So what better way for me to launch my career into the next phase than to think about how to communicate in new and innovative ways within my field.”
Thanks to a curriculum that includes media economics, systems modeling, and ethical issues; thanks also to an online format and special topics seminars that accommodate the demands of home and work life; and thanks to the Art Moore ’66 Scholarship, awarded to students whose costs are not fully covered by their employers, the communications innovation master’s degree gave Sarah a platform to collaborate closely with other forward-thinking communications executives. The program’s think-tank model is helping her advance her long-term mission.
“The communications innovation M.S. blends successful communications strategy with fresh thinking. Working with colleagues in disparate fields such as international relations, e-media, and digital production is helping me transform higher education as a means of creating a sustainable society.”
In high school, I considered myself a pretty good student. Most of my friends took the same classes I did and knew they wanted to be biomedical engineers, environmental scientists, or doctors someday. I was confident in my abilities and had plenty of ideas about my interests, but I wasn’t prepared at 18 to make what I thought was a huge choice. When I was looking for colleges, I wanted a school that acknowledged that it takes time and experience to make that decision. Ithaca College’s Exploratory Program offered me just that.
The Exploratory Program provided me with so many resources. I took a course specifically designed to help college students discover their passions. My faculty advisor, Elizabeth Bleicher, asked me focused questions to reveal potential majors that might suit both my personality and abilities.
In high school I enjoyed physics, and I knew coming in that I wanted to take a college-level course on the subject. Professor Bleicher referred me to Professor Michael “Bodhi” Rogers. His passion is infectious. After completing the introductory class, I realized that I loved physics. I like the logic involved in it. It’s not about memorization—it’s about problem-solving in real life. That intellectual challenge is exactly what I was looking for in my college experience.
The enthusiasm of the people in the physics department also really impressed me. They’re totally dedicated to using a teaching style based on the most current research about how students best learn. I had a class in the performance-based physics classroom—a collaborative learning environment where the professor is in the center with projectors all around, and students are seated in groups so that they can discuss questions before answering. It was one of the most powerful educational experiences I have ever had.
By talking to my faculty advisor and professors, I learned what I can do with a physics major. I can be anything from an engineer to a lawyer or teacher. Educators in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) are in demand, and teaching is something I’m definitely interested in. Physics majors score well on law school entrance tests, and I accepted a summer internship working in the legal department of a technologies corporation. The idea that I could major in a subject that was really important, had a great job outlook, and would still let me do a variety of different things down the road really appealed to me.
I also visited Career Services as part of my exploration, and they helped me discover ways my preferences could be matched with potential careers. That led me to realize that I could actually pursue multiple interests. Now, not only am I a physics major, but I am also a business administration minor.
The Exploratory Program was the reason I came to Ithaca College. Though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I didn’t like calling myself “undecided” because I had decided that I wasn’t ready to choose a major yet. I wanted time to explore; I wanted guidance along the way—and that’s exactly what Ithaca gave me.
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
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.
It’s an awards-season cliché, but it really is an honor just to be nominated. Becky Hall knows: she was among the 217 quarterfinalists for the inaugural Grammy Award for music education—selected from more than 30,000 nominees.
Becky, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Ithaca College School of Music, couldn’t escape the honor. After stifling an attempt by students to nominate her (“I said, ‘No, no. Please don’t do that. There are so many more deserving teachers!’”), she later found out that a colleague had submitted her name. A few months later, she received an email notifying her that she was in the quarterfinals.
“I was speechless. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.” And though she wasn’t among the 25 who made it to the semifinals, the commitment and passion that earned her the nomination—as well as a 2010–11 Teacher of the Year Award from her district—is what matters most. She learned these qualities growing up and honed them at Ithaca College.
“[IC] taught me discipline. It taught me to be organized in my way of living, in my presentation of thoughts. The professors truly are the example of lifelong learners: always going to conferences, always reading up on the latest techniques, strategies, philosophies. As a teacher, I try to do that as well.”
When she decided to earn her master’s degree while teaching full-time at the school she attended as a child, Becky enrolled in IC’s graduate summer music program. The program gives current music teachers the opportunity to earn their master’s degree in three summers.
“I wanted to get better educated in my field—to understand the philosophies, theories, and practice of music. Ithaca was the best place to do that.”
Her dedication to teaching didn’t earn a Grammy, but her reward is being able to inspire students to strive for their best. “I didn’t grow up with much, and I didn’t have confidence. But luckily I found music, I stayed dedicated to it, and I went to one of the best schools for music. Now I’m living the dream. I get to teach music. I perform on the weekends and at night, wherever and whenever I can. I tell them, ‘If I can do it, then you can, too.’”
School of Health Sciences and Human Performance | Sport Media
Viewers of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown regularly see Chris Berman, Keyshawn Johnson, and Mike Ditka analyzing that day’s upcoming games. But before any game highlights can make it to viewers’ screens at home, producers and production assistants work behind the scenes to select the best shots, plays, and clips. For IC sport media graduate and ESPN associate producer Gavin Cote ’12, it’s a team effort.
The production process, Gavin said, starts with a Thursday morning meeting and heats up as the wee hours of Sunday morning approach. That’s when Gavin and his colleagues start putting the final touches on their shot selections, voiceovers, edits, music, and sponsor messages.
“A three-hour show doesn’t come together by trying to be a hero and doing everything yourself,” Gavin said. “You can’t be afraid to ask for help. I learned that at IC.”
Some of that learning came from doing basketball play-by-play for ICTV and hosting Gridiron Report, a weekly update on Bomber football.
“It was awesome to host a show my junior year, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. Fortunately, a lot of great people helped me with editing and production decisions.”
And, because IC’s sport media major includes courses in liberal arts, sport theory, advertising, and sport video production, help also came from the classroom.
“I wouldn’t have gotten my foot in the door at ESPN without the background I got doing Gridiron Report and taking production classes in the Park School and writing classes in the sport media department,” Gavin said. “Having all that on my resume led to a production internship at ESPN the summer before my senior year.”
The network liked his work and offered him a full-time job the following spring—a month and a half before he graduated. After doing NBA highlights for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, Gavin now helps decide what weekly highlights NFL fans get to see.
“Production skills, working under deadline pressure, focusing on internships, developing writing skills, making contacts—everything I experienced at IC was relevant to what I’m doing now. Don’t think you can’t work at a certain place because it’s ESPN or NBC. I’m building on the skills I went to college for, and I’m getting paid to do something I love: watch sports.”
“I lived on the north fork of Long Island, and I was the only bassoon player on the north fork. The only one,” Sean says. So when it came time to choose a major at Ithaca College, Sean wasn’t worried about taking a different approach from some of his peers.
Many students go to college and make a decision: to focus on one field of study, learn about a specific area, and pick up related courses along the way. But some students, like Sean, have more varied interests. The young bassoonist had discovered a passion for science in high school and wanted to include both music and physics in his educational journey. At Ithaca College, an emphasis on cross-disciplinary learning made it easy for Sean to combine these very different fields and discover a career that draws from each.
“Acoustical engineering really brings them together. Musicians play in spaces all the time, and some are good spaces and some are just bad spaces,” says Sean. “As a performer I know that a good space involves good reverberation times. You will get liveness in the hall, your sound will be carried, but you don’t want it to be too live. If everything’s reflecting too well in the hall, you can get echoes, and it can make everything kind of muddy.”
Working with Luke Keller, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Alex Perialas, associate professor from the School of Music, Sean is doing an acoustical analysis of IC’s Ford Hall auditorium. The analysis will help determine what acoustical improvements will be made during upcoming renovations. “We’re looking at frequency response and reverberation times in Ford Hall to get a quantitative measurement of why we think the renovation has helped.”
Sean also landed a summer internship with SoundSense, an architectural acoustics firm on Long Island, where he worked alongside engineers to develop his skills. The internship helped Sean realize that his decision to combine music and physics was the right path for him. “Talking to the CEO about everything I would be doing caused me to realize that I’ve never been as excited. That’s really what I want to do. That’s my passion.”
Big decisions often have unexpected benefits. When Johanna Pan left her native Singapore to attend Ithaca College for theatrical production arts, a key factor in her decision to come to IC was the financial aid she was able to secure. Once here, she discovered she was enrolled in one of the most respected programs in the country.
“I like to call Ithaca a lucky accident because I didn’t realize how good the program was before I got here. And for that I’m very grateful,” she says.
In the theatrical design concentration, Johanna applied classroom lessons in costume and scenic design to Ithaca College Theatre’s yearly productions. As a senior, she was the costume designer for two period pieces: Translations, set in 1830s Ireland, and An Enemy of the People, in 1880s Norway.
Johanna researched the kinds of fabrics that were made at the time, how clothing was layered, and even the way seasons and climate in those locations dictated wardrobe choices. By understanding these factors, she and the production staff could apply them to their portrayals on the modern stage.
"What a lot of people don't realize about theatre design is that there are certain rules we create as a team. What does a short skirt mean as opposed to a long skirt? What are the colors of the world? What does this color mean to everyone across the board, and how are we going to use that to portray something? The audience may not notice them consciously, but the picture as a whole and what it presents is noticeable.”
Johanna spent a semester at the Ithaca College London Center, where she attended over 50 performances—from the West End to small pubs—for class and her own enjoyment.
“Seeing so much theatre in a country that loves theatre so much helps you understand why we do what we do. You are reminded of the magic when you’re not working on a show because you’re not involved and can just appreciate someone else's work.”
Johanna took on several internships and jobs after graduation, including one with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical that had her traversing New York City’s clothing and fabric stores. The show is scheduled to open on Broadway in December 2013. She also plans to return to Singapore to fulfill a commitment she made to the Singaporean theatre industry when she received a scholarship from the Singapore National Arts Council. She then plans to head back to New York City to pursue a master’s degree in fine arts and rejoin the theatre scene.
“I want to live in New York City. I love the sheer amount of musicals that happen there and the sheer amount of theatre.”
Tim Reynolds developed shoulder pain while playing baseball in high school. After several weeks of physical therapy, he was finally pain-free.
“I realized I wanted to help others the way that therapist helped me,” Tim said. “When I heard about the reputation of IC’s physical therapy program, I wanted to go there.”
Tim received his bachelor’s in clinical health studies in 2012 and then entered IC’s two-year doctorate of physical therapy program, gaining clinical experience as well as academic honors—including an award recognizing him as one of the country’s top undergraduates in an allied health field.
Tim expected that IC would offer him opportunities to gain knowledge and experience in physical therapy. What he didn’t expect was that IC would offer him the chance to become a businessman. After taking a course in neuromuscular control, Tim saw a way to transform a standard dumbbell into a kettlebell.
“Kettlebells are spherical weights with a curved handle to accommodate a two-handed grip,” Tim said. “They combine strength, cardio, and flexibility training into a single workout. But an entire set costs hundreds of dollars and takes up a lot of floor space.”
With the help of two faculty members, Tim and a friend designed a clasp with a handle shaped like a subway strap. Securing the clasp around a dumbbell bar of any weight transforms it into a kettlebell. After dubbing the device a KettleShell, Tim needed to market it. Ithaca’s School of Business showed him how.
“I took classes on developing business plans and then pitched KettleShell at the New York State Business Plan Competition, which attracted over 430 entries. KettleShell took third place in the products and services category and $1,500 in prize money. Naturally I was encouraged.”
Tim is currently testing a prototype of his product at five colleges across the country and hopes to have KettleShells in production by the end of 2013—just five months before he completes his graduate program in physical therapy.
“I never considered becoming an entrepreneur, but once you get passionate about an idea, it’s a remarkable feeling. Being able to take courses in the business school shows how IC provides its students with unexpected opportunities. I’m a CEO and I’m still in college.”
Brian Diller had questions and knew where to get answers.
“How can I conduct better? How can I listen better? What am I not even hearing yet? What is the next level for me? It’s those kinds of deeper questions that I went back to school for,” he says. “Ithaca was the place to ask those higher-level questions.”
Brian conducted a high school band for three years after he received his undergraduate degree. During that time he developed as a teacher, learned how to delve into problems, and gained insights into conducting and music. But as those questions emerged, he knew it was time to pursue his graduate degree.
And for help finding the answers he was looking for, Brian had one person in mind: Ithaca College professor Steve Peterson. Brian was aware of Steve’s reputation as a conductor and teacher already. His first chance to meet and work with the renowned instructor came during a weeklong summer workshop that Steve hosts at Ithaca College every year. “It really opened my eyes to a lot of new things about music, teaching, conducting, and everything I wanted to be as a musician,” Brian says.
Brian applied for and was accepted into the graduate program two years later, its small size allowed for plenty of class, practice, and consultation time with professors, as well as continuous opportunities to conduct pieces with the various groups in the School of Music. Brian considers the time spent with the ensembles incredibly meaningful, especially the capstone to the program—the master’s recital.
“Steve gave the wind ensemble to us graduate students for three weeks to do a whole program. We did all the rehearsing, all the planning.” In addition, one of IC’s cello professors performed a solo during the program. “It was a great opportunity to collaborate with the faculty and have a soloist with the group,” Brian says.
Shortly after earning his master’s, Brian was named to a one-year position as an associate lecturer of music at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He’s exploring doctoral programs in music as well. And though he’d love to continue teaching at a college level, he says he’d be perfectly happy to return to the high school level—now that he has those deep questions answered and is equipped with the skillset to answer new ones on his own.
“Professors at Ithaca College weren’t teaching us [graduate students] so much as they were guiding us in our own research and giving us the tools to search for our own answers. And it was done in a really meaningful and effective way by the entire faculty,” Brian says.
As an Academic Enrichment Services tutor, writing center tutor, and teaching assistant at Ithaca College, Julia Becker has enjoyed helping other students on their paths to success. Her plan after graduation is to become an English teacher—but when she came to IC, she was unsure about her direction.
Julia entered Ithaca College’s Exploratory Program, which gives students up to four semesters before declaring a major to take courses across IC’s five schools, receiving focused advisement and mentoring along the way. “I’m an organized person, so not knowing what I wanted to do was kind of stressful,” Julia says. “The Exploratory Program at IC gave me a direction and a plan to get me going on a path that felt right.”
As a sophomore, Julia explored English as a possible major. “I took Intro to Poetry and [Approaches to] Literary Theory, and it just clicked. I hadn’t taken an English class since high school, and once I settled into it I realized that’s where I was supposed to be.”
As part of the Ithaca College Honors Program, Julia took her newfound love for English to the source with a semester abroad in London, England. Through an independent study course of her own creation, Julia collaborated with IC professor Robert Sullivan on his literary work. She spent weeks in the Rare Books Reading Room of the British Library, transcribing an original work by Renaissance-era humanist Sir Thomas Elyot. Julia and Professor Sullivan will eventually create a modern critical edition of the 16th-century book.
“Having the chance to work on something so unique that will result in a publication credit to my name is a valuable experience that I never imagined I could have as an undergraduate.”
Discovering her passion for English made Julia realize she wants to share it with others. She was accepted to the educational nonprofit Teach for America, and will be teaching English to secondary school students in a disadvantaged area after graduation. She also plans to pursue an English Ph.D. to become a professor.
“Working closely with students at Ithaca to help them excel and teach them important skills has been a rewarding experience. It has helped prepare me for the teaching that I’ll be going on to do in the future.”
When Kacey Deamer was 14, she noticed healthy trees in her neighborhood marked for removal. “There was nothing wrong with them. They just happened to be bothersome to somebody,” Kacey recalls. That was when she realized many people don’t appreciate the planet for what it is.
Kacey decided she could make a difference by investigating and reporting on environmental issues. “I want to share my passion through journalism so that people not only understand the environmental issues at hand, but they’re also emboldened to go out and act on them.”
As a student at IC, Kacey took every opportunity to expand her understanding of the environment and media. She traveled with a class to the United Nations Framework Conference for Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, to observe climate talks in action. Guided by professors, she landed media internships each year of her college career. She reported environmental news for the Ithacan newspaper and Buzzsaw magazine—and as a senior, she became the first student to be an editor for both.
While researching a story, Kacey emailed Ithaca alumna Kate Sheppard ’06, staff reporter at Mother Jones magazine. Kate became Kacey’s mentor and connected her to an internship opportunity at the magazine. She also encouraged Kacey to apply for the Recharge! retreat held by Focus the Nation. Recharge! brings together rising leaders in the clean energy movement from across the country to learn about and discuss environmental issues.
Kacey was invited to the retreat, and spent an enlightening week visiting a coal plant, wind farm, and dam, climbing a glacier, and speaking with other students who were passionate about environmental issues. “It was one of those experiences that really encourages you to think that a difference can actually be made, that you’re not the only one thinking that something needs to change.”
Kacey plans to continue reporting on the issues after graduation and to further her education in environment and science journalism. The inspiration for the next phase of her environmental education came from her IC class trip to the UN climate change conference. “Somehow scientists are able to communicate and agree, and the politicians can’t make it happen. What I really want to be able to do is bridge that gap. Take the science and translate it so that people understand, and then those readers can push the politicians to make the changes that we need.
“I feel ready to save the planet in some small or large way and to take on the challenge of making people care. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I think I can do it.”
Drew Steedman ’13 grew up near Boston loving to play sports (he was recruited by Ithaca College to play soccer) and loving to watch them (especially the Celtics and Bruins). As a business administration major, Drew decided to explore the business side of athletics. A paid internship with Fenway Sports Management—marketing firm for the Boston Red Sox—showed him what his future could hold.
“That experience showed me that I’d enjoy working in the sports industry,” he said. “Also, I made contacts that led to other internships.”
One was with Kraft Sports Group. The other was what Drew called “the jackpot”—a paid, semester-long stint at MSG Sports, promoter of the New York Knicks and Rangers.
“It took me to Madison Square Garden—the World’s Most Famous Arena,” Drew said. “The big lesson learned? If you want to set yourself apart in sports promotion, New York City is the place to go.”
The road to the Big Apple started with IC’s New York City Internship Program (ICNYC). In addition to a six-credit internship in New York, Drew enrolled for six course credits and worked with the business school to find the right internship.
“MSG was very competitive, but the president was friends with the president of FSM. That got me an interview, and the interview got me the job. I reported directly to the president.” Who was, Drew said, very high energy.
“Some days I’d work on a research project, some days e-mailing story clips, other days getting ready for that night’s game. It was go, go, go, and to my surprise, I liked it. It was like sports. Whatever comes your way, you have to know you can handle it.”
Being a Celtics fan working the Knicks sideline was the biggest challenge. “I had to put my loyalties on hold and focus on why I was there. Sports have a major impact on people. My favorite thing was taking clients courtside and seeing the thrill kids and parents got when a Knicks player signed a pregame autograph.”
Drew also sees how his semester at MSG will impact his career.
“I’m ready to tell interviewers, whatever that first job throws my way, I’ve already experienced it at The Garden.”
Editor's Note: After graduating from IC, Drew Steedman went to work for Fenway Sports Management in Boston before returning to Madison Square Garden. He is now an inside sales representative there, generating new business platforms for the Knicks, Rangers, and Liberty brands.
>> More on this story: ICNYC
In the early afternoon on Thursday, August 2, 2012, Meghan Musnicki took off on the ride of her life. Eight athletes focused on becoming one, rowing with a combined strength and fluidity that made them seem to fly over the surface of the water. The coxswain set the pace and shouted encouragement from the stern of the shell. Nobody could catch them.
In over two years of training with the U.S. Rowing team, Meghan won a handful of medals, including gold at the 2011 World Rowing Championships. But in the cool waters of Eton Dorney, Meghan’s greatest rowing goal was realized—the U.S. women’s eight had won Olympic gold.
Before joining crew at Ithaca College, Meghan could not have known that rowing would be part of her life after graduation. She transferred to Ithaca as a sophomore psychology major. "They were all very welcoming and friendly. They didn't make me feel like I was an outsider even though I had just transferred in the middle of the year," Meghan recalls.
The camaraderie Meghan felt only grew from there, as she formed lasting friendships with her teammates and coach, Becky Robinson. The team trained hard together and saw competitive success along the way. They won two NCAA titles, and Meghan was a 2005 first-team Division III all-American. It was then that she first saw the possibility of rowing in her future.
After graduation, Meghan decided to pursue a career in nursing. She applied to a number of accelerated nursing programs and was accepted—but the call of the water was strong. She had begun training more regularly and intensely, and put nursing on hold to work toward her Olympic dream. Among the many things she carries with her from her time at Ithaca College is the drive to be the best rower she can be.
"I love to win. I've always had a passion to compete, train, and be fast. It takes a level of commitment, drive, and willingness to push yourself beyond where you think you can go."
» More on this story: Women's Crew
Growing up in the Virgin Islands, Luben Daniel listened to his parents’ CDs of calypso, reggae, soul, gospel, and rhythm and blues. “Early on,” he said, “I knew what good music sounded like.”
Turns out he also knew how to make good music. Taking up the clarinet in fourth grade, he became first chair and section leader in his high school band. He also joined a steel band—a group of musicians who play steel pans tuned to various pitches.
“Steel band is our thing,” Luben said. “It represents all things Caribbean.”
His clarinet and steel-band gigs took him on melodious journeys to venues as far away as Argentina and the United States. Though performing resonated with him, Luben decided his musical future lay in teaching.
“It wasn’t a popular decision,” he said. “People told me, ‘With your talent, you could play in a big-time orchestra for big-time money.’ But without a school music program, I wouldn’t have discovered the fulfillment music brings. As a teacher, I could introduce that joy to others.” Luben set his sights on the music education program at IC. “A friend went there, and his musicianship skyrocketed. I wanted that.”
Luben traveled 1,600 miles to IC to focus on the clarinet but was surprised to find a slice of home on campus in the School of Music’s steel band. “I never expected to find one in Ithaca,” he said. “For my senior recital, I composed a work for the ensemble. The rehearsals were a joy for us all.
Something else unexpected happened his senior year. A teacher from his high school called. The band director was retiring. Would Luben be interested in the position?
“Going back home and teaching was all I’d ever wanted,” Luben said. “I never thought it would happen that quickly, because it’s rare for new graduates to find teaching positions at their high school alma maters.”
But Luben wasn’t scheduled to graduate in time to take the offer.
“Luben told me that spring that he’d just been offered his dream job and wondered what we could do to help him complete his degree earlier than he’d planned,” said Keith Kaiser, chair of music education. “A lot of people worked hard to make that happen—including Luben. He’s now back home, improving music education in the Virgin Islands.”
“Ithaca College redefined my comfort zone,” Luben said. “I discovered my strengths and weaknesses and how to confront them. Now I’ll be sharing how that growth process works with my students.”
>> More on this story: IC Steel Band
Perri Rumstein ’13 chose IC because its integrated marketing communications major offered advertising, public relations, and marketing.
“I couldn’t decide between business and communications, and IC was the only school I found with aspects of both in one major,” Perri said. “With a versatile degree, I’d have a broad background that I could eventually narrow down to find the direction I wanted.”
That broad background led to semester-long internships—one writing commercials for a local radio group and the other promoting the Verizon Wireless brand on campus for a Chicago-based marketing agency.
“The interviewers at the internships were impressed that I was getting business credits with the marketing concentration as well as creative know-how from communications,” Perri said. “It set me apart.”
Perri broadened her classroom and internship experiences by working as a president’s host for the admission office. In addition to giving campus tours, she assisted with open houses and student recruiting. When she was promoted to co-chair of the President’s Hosts Committee, she took on more responsibility. As a student event manager, she supervised a team of 30 peers working with the admission staff to organize a four-day conference for 700 college admission counselors.
“With an event that large, things will inevitably go wrong,” Perri said. “By watching how my supervisors maintained their composure, I learned how to move past problems and find solutions.”
Discovering she could handle the challenges of event management, Perri to set her sights on a career in corporate event planning. She also discovered something else.
“In high school, I wasn’t inspired to try new things. When it came time for college, I was afraid to leave everything behind. But IC challenged me, and my leadership skills flourished.”
In addition to co-chairing the President’s Hosts Committee, Perri is a senior class cabinet member and co-chair of the senior class gift campaign.
“I’ve talked to people from other schools who are terrified of graduation,” Perri said. “But after all I’ve experienced at IC, I’m not the least bit worried. IC’s prepared me to take on anything.”
Computer science and history are not commonly paired in the classroom. But at Ithaca College, professors Ali Erkan and Michael Smith have begun a collaboration that may help improve the way students learn.
The project began because of computer science professor Ali Erkan’s curiosity. He wanted to look at how students use wikis—websites developed collaboratively by a community of users who can add and delete information—so he could research and create a visual map of the way the students make connections between ideas. He asked himself, If students produce things that can be visualized as structures, will that allow us to understand understanding itself?
“I think computer science allows you to develop the tools to work on that question—but then you need a context,” Ali says. “I thought the humanities would be the best context to explore, and I had to find the right person to work with.”
Ali had just the person in mind—a history professor he had met during a bus ride in Ithaca a couple years earlier and had since interacted with on the IC campus. He emailed Michael Smith to share his idea.
“The fact that Ithaca, both as an institution and a community, is small enough that you can have these kinds of interpersonal connections that can then become more formal collaborations is something I really value,” Michael says. “In some ways I’m an odd choice because I’m a little bit of a digital skeptic, but when Ali approached me with this idea of using wikis as a way of representing knowledge—that you could kind of lift up the hood and see some structures in there—I was intrigued.”
Ali and Michael have been working with students in both their fields to further explore the project’s questions. They created a grant proposal and received a digital humanities start-up grant from the National Endowment for Humanities. They hope that by gaining understanding of how thought connections are formed, they can eventually help students improve how they research and learn.
Ithaca College has given them the support they need to make the project a success. “It is a teaching-oriented institution, so we’re encouraged to be innovative and emphasize teaching excellence in all sorts of ways. So this is a way to remain active as scholars and at the same time improve what happens in our classroom,” says Michael.
“There’s no quota for the amount of papers you have to write or the amount of money you have to bring in. Those things are in place at other institutions so that there’s more research productivity, but I think it ends up being a hindrance on the research,” Ali says. “We both feel liberated by not operating under those constraints, so we can simply follow our curiosity, and that becomes our optimum point of operation. Because we are curious, we are productive.”
>> More on this story: Untangling the Web
Many young musicians have role models—artists they look up to and respect—whose success fuels their growing aspirations for musical achievement. Not many get the chance to have one of their most influential role models as a mentor and teacher. But at Ithaca College, Jordan Morton got just that opportunity.
“Nicholas Walker had so much to do with my development as a musician and as a professional personality. He opened up the horizon to what I could accomplish,” Jordan says of her double bass professor. “Nicholas treats his studio like family. He cares about and guides each one of us throughout our entire undergraduate career and remains a valuable mentor and professional contact after graduation. Without him, I would definitely not be going to Paris.”
Jordan is the recipient of the Harriet Hale Woolley Scholarship and residency at the Fondation des Etats-Unis in Paris, France. Four exceptional American artists and musicians are selected for the award each year. Through the scholarship, Jordan will pursue a year of private study under the tutelage of François Rabbath—a contemporary French double bass player, soloist, and composer—who also taught Nicholas Walker.
“For me, Paris will be an apprenticeship with the teacher of my teacher. I’m going straight to the source, becoming a part of the tradition. I’m going to absorb everything I can from François and explore the possibilities of my own musical voice. Now is the time to do that—to build on the foundation that Ithaca College has provided.”
Through close guidance, dedicated training, and industry connections from her professor and mentor, Jordan graduated well prepared for an innovative and fulfilling musical career—and she can’t wait to share her passion with the world. “I feel ready to connect with the public and to revitalize soulful, spiritual, intellectual music, because we need that as a culture whether we know it or not.”
Jared Dionne knows how to recognize a great rising band. Discovering new music is a passion for Jared—one that he wants to share with the world. His intense connection to the music scene led him to pursue a journalism major in Ithaca’s Roy H. Park School of Communications.
“I started writing for the Ithacan and learned very quickly what it means to be a journalist,” Jared says. “I wanted to do reviews. I wanted to introduce people to new music.”
Jared was surprised at the opportunities he got at IC right away. He was sent to report on concerts at Ithaca’s popular music venues. “Ra Ra Riot performed and I got to interview them. The Ithacan got me the interview, and it was only my second week in college. That’s when I realized I was going to be fine at Ithaca. I interviewed multiple bands including Ok Go, An Horse, and Phoenix.”
Meeting bands he loved and making connections made Jared realize he wanted a more active role in the music industry. “I needed more hands-on. I decided to pick up the marketing major—I wanted to get into booking these shows.”
Jared joined the Ithaca College Bureau of Concerts and worked his way up to the top, sharing his vision of bringing new music to the Ithaca College scene. “I don’t want anyone who’s in school at IC now to see a band they’ve already seen. I want people to see bands before they get big.”
Jared’s broad background caught the attention of LA concert promotion company Goldenvoice. “The company saw that I had the technical end with marketing and promoting, and then I had the artistic end with writing—being able to articulate something and communicate it to other people.”
At Goldenvoice, Jared helped promote and coordinate concerts in the LA area and worked on developing the company’s social media strategy. Following his internship, Jared was asked by Goldenvoice to help the company run its social media remotely. Goldenvoice even asked him to work the company’s biggest event in 2013—Coachella.
“I feel ready to go out and explore the music world. There’s a lot we still don’t know about, so hopefully I’ll see what’s going on and change it a bit.”
Some day in the not-so-distant future, as cities expand and climate change continues, Andreas Jonathan will be working to strike a balance between urban growth and environmentalism. “We’re living in a world that is very quickly urbanizing. There are a lot of mega-cities continuing to grow, and I think cities will be the battleground for sustainability in the future,” Andreas says.
As a freshman at Ithaca College, Andreas was drawn to the environmental studies program. “There was a course called Environmental Sentinels, where the purpose was to discover what you’re trying to save. We had class at night in the natural lands where we were blindfolded and had to get back to campus just by listening. It made me think about my place in the natural world.”
Andreas also felt a calling he hadn’t yet fully identified. “I needed something to complement what I was learning, so I could channel my desire for a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society.”
Luckily at Ithaca he had mentors to help him find the right program. "It’s been very easy for me to find people who care about my future. I learned about architectural studies by speaking with professors in the art history department.”
As a sophomore, Andreas secured an internship with the Institute for Urban Design in New York City. He joined the institute’s project team for the Venice International Architecture Biennale, an event where architects and designers from around the world showcase themed designs. The U.S. theme was “spontaneous interventions”—designing to solve urban problems and create new opportunities for the public.
“What I love most about architecture is that it's so much more than building and construction. There’s history, theory, stakeholder relations, and social and environmental consequences,” Andreas says. “It struck me that anyone working in design professions must constantly be balancing, learning.”
For Andreas, learning to strike that delicate balance began with the conversations he had with mentors at IC. He plans to extend his knowledge of design beyond graduation as he pursues dual master’s degrees in architecture and city planning followed by a Ph.D.
“When I was little and was asked, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ I didn’t really know. But I knew there was this scar on the world that needed to be fixed. Then I started falling in love with architecture, city design, and social justice. It was what I always planned on doing before I even knew what it was.”
The Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar Program at Ithaca College uses the phrase “citizenship and service in the global community,” and that’s exactly the spirit of connection and commitment that attracted Greta Hardware.
“[The MLK program] gave me a different perspective others in my major didn’t have,” she says. “It inspired me to explore classes on social justice issues and do research outside my major but still integrate the business world and look at it from a different perspective.”
For example, Greta used several international trips built into the MLK Scholar Program to research free-trade agreements between the United States and countries she visited—South Korea, Costa Rica, Spain, and Morocco. During her junior year, the accounting and finance major had the opportunity to present her findings at IC’s Whalen Academic Symposium, where students present research projects to the campus community.
“When I was in South Korea, there were real-time discussions about free trade, and we saw protests at the U.S. embassy. It was a very real experience. [The overseas trips] helped me realize I want an international experience, that I like learning about different perspectives. That stuck with me.”
The international component was one reason she joined the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers after graduation. “I found out you could do tours in different offices around the world. I knew I wanted to work at a PWC office in another country for an extended amount of time.” Greta’s done a two-month stint in Sydney, Australia, and hopes to land a longer stint in a Spanish-speaking country.
She was also drawn by PWC’s community involvement, an important aspect of life for Greta. She’s been involved in programs that teach school children the importance of financial management, done cancer walks, and assisted with community service projects as fundamental as painting at local schools.
PWC offered her a job after college based on her performance during a summer internship with the firm, and Greta credits her education with helping prepare her.
“The School of Business puts you in a professional environment, which simulates the real world. Presentations, student organizations in which you play a professional role conducting activities in your field, internships in the industries that interest you, contact with recent alumni—you get a real-world perspective on what it’s going to be like after college.”
>> More on this story: MLK Scholar Program
Meghan Swope understands the importance of a quality education. As an account assistant in the education division of strategic communications firm GMMB, Meghan works with a number of nonprofits to help kids get a great education, regardless of their background or zip code.
“The issues facing education today have a ripple effect on some of society’s other issues,” Meghan says. “The foundations we work for are trying to ensure that everyone graduates from high school with the skills that they need for college or a career.”
Meghan’s education led her to the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, where she majored in communication management and design. As a Park scholar, Meghan got not only a full scholarship but also an open door to a world of opportunity in communications and community service. She chatted one-on-one with Christiane Amanpour when the CNN anchor visited IC as part of the Park Distinguished Visitor Series. She studied abroad in Australia. She used IC’s industry connections to land multiple internships—as part of IC’s Los Angeles program she interned in the publicity department of Fox Broadcasting and the production department of the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and during her senior year she interned at PR firm Fleishman-Hillard. All this gave Meghan a powerful edge over the competition when she moved to D.C. after graduation.
“In a city like D.C., there are so many young people vying for one job. I had almost a full year of internship experience at graduation. I think that put me ahead of the game for sure,” Meghan recalls. “At GMMB, I’ve been told that my skills are beyond what they’re used to. When you [are hired at] a public relations agency, there’s an expectation that they’ll have to teach you how to write a press release and use industry tools. Because of IC, I came in already prepared for that.”
The IC experience also ignited Meghan’s passion for supporting important issues and causes. She participated in Relay for Life, Colleges Against Cancer, and Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND). At GMMB, she combines her drive to help others with her communication skills by planning events and developing messaging to grow public awareness of her clients’ missions.
“I want to keep making a difference for my clients and in my own life. I think that’s how the world changes—with optimistic people who are passionate about the work they do, who are motivated and feel like they have the support they need to achieve change.”
>> More on this story: Park Scholar Program
When it came time for Rochelle Frankson to choose a college, her mother had a suggestion for her: Ithaca College. Her mom had heard about Ithaca during an informational meeting for parents. Rochelle is from Jamaica, and the meeting was part of a program to prepare families to apply to American schools.
“She heard the name Ithaca College enough for her to remember and tell me, ‘Apply to that one.’ A lot of good things were said in the meeting about IC,” Rochelle says.
As a chemistry major, Rochelle discovered an interest in medicine. She contemplated pre-med studies, but her interests led elsewhere. “I was falling more and more in love with the science of medicine, not the actual practice of it. When I heard about pharmacology, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Rochelle’s inclination toward pharmacology led to lab internships during which she used X-ray and computer analyses to see how certain acids bonded to a protein known as histone-deacetylase-8, and how those acids stopped or slowed activity in the protein through crystallization. Research shows that the protein is overactive in cases of colon and prostate cancer, and their goal in the lab was to identify potential acid “inhibitors” that other researchers could someday use in developing new cancer treatments.
In the spring of her senior year, Rochelle traveled to New Orleans to attend an American Chemical Society conference with classmates and professors from IC’s chemistry department. A big take-away for Rochelle was a talk about the lack of basic scientific knowledge among the general population and why it’s important for scientists to help keep the public informed.
“You’re doing this research to eventually help other people. You have to translate it for the nonscientific community.”
Rochelle also found time to be a student leadership consultant with the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs and was involved with Service Saturdays. “I love creating events or just being in an office or doing little tasks that are ultimately helping the wider community.”
After graduating, Rochelle went into a Ph.D. program at Indiana University. She compared departing IC to leaving family and described the chemistry department as “very close-knit” among the students and teachers.
“I expected the professor-student relationship to only be professional. But they actually have a vested interest in you as a person.”
“Imagine not being able to talk at all,” said Maritsa Sherenian. “And you’ll have an inkling of what life is like for people with speech disorders. Even telling someone they’re thirsty is very, very difficult. They’re isolated in their own skins. Imagine that.”
Maritsa has not only imagined that, at IC she’s confronted it.
“I had my first clinical placement as an undergrad at Ithaca,” she said. “It involved accent modification with a young boy. It appealed to me because I was one-on-one with someone who needed help.”
Maritsa also formed one-on-one relationships with faculty.
“I did research for a professor who was studying college students’ awareness of autism,” Maritsa said. “Like all the faculty, he was a great help. They all knew when to push me and when I needed a gentle hand.”
Though Maritsa applied to several grad schools, Ithaca was her first choice.
“I knew I’d thrive here, especially since I already knew the professors,” she said. “That was huge.”
Also huge was the revelation Maritsa had once she was in the grad program. It took place in a horse barn.
“Children with autism typically have trouble developing natural speech,” Maritsa said. “One of my professors, Tina Caswell, was addressing that issue with a therapy program that placed autistic children on horseback and equipped them with iPads containing speech-generating software.”
Maritsa assisted with the program. The children, she said, became different people.
“The horse’s gentle gait calmed them. In that better frame of mind, they focused on the iPads and sent messages to their parents—not just about basic needs but also about what they were feeling. Moms and dads told us that for the first time, they could have a conversation with their children.”
The experience was also a first for Maritsa.
“I’d ridden horses since I was 10 or 11, and it dawned on me that an activity I loved could be a treatment option. Before, I’d pictured speech therapy as sitting in a small room with a client. I was open to new directions.”
Though Maritsa’s other graduate school experiences didn’t take place around horses, neither did they happen in enclosed spaces. For example, she spent two semesters working with a 13-year-old girl with Rett syndrome, a rare form of autism.
“Rett syndrome robs children of their muscle control and therefore their ability to speak, but they often retain their cognitive faculties,” Maritsa said. “With help from assistive technology, the young lady was able to convey how she felt. When she let me know she liked to make jewelry, we began making jewelry. Rarely had she experienced that kind of interaction. The world had always seen her as some tiny little girl, but she was a teenager, and she knew full well what was going on around her.”
Maritsa spent the last semester of her graduate program in full-time externships, one with autistic middle schoolers and the other with pediatric patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Friends at other grad schools have told me they hadn’t gotten the hours of actual work I did at IC,” Maritsa said. “They were more in the classroom, listening to a teacher explain something, while I’ve worked in clinics and one-on-one situations.”
Those opportunities to observe and discover, she said, will serve her well as she begins her job as a speech therapist at an elementary school.
“Society needs speech pathologists. My six years at IC have given me the foundation to be a first-rate clinician.”
Adeesha Ekanayake grew up in Sri Lanka, an island nation off the coast of India. When political tensions closed the university he was attending, he wanted a more stable educational environment. So he flew 9,000 miles away from home to go to Ithaca College.
“Sri Lanka is a small country,” he said. “Getting off the plane at JFK, I’d never seen such scale. I felt cut off from my moorings.”
Fortunately, he’d enrolled in Ithaca College’s HOME program, a multicultural housing arrangement for international students. “The best thing I did was keep my door open. I met a lot of international students as homesick as I was. Plus, we were serious about our studies. We clicked. We got over our culture shock.”
A computer science major, Adeesha and three other students came up with an idea for an app that can scan garments in clothing stores to show negative environmental impacts regarding how the clothes were made. The team decided to enter their idea in the Business Idea Competition held by the college’s School of Business—and finished first in the software category. The team enjoyed splitting the $5,000 prize, but it was the “idea” part of the competition that sparked Adeesha’s passion for research.
“I helped a faculty member with her research, and she encouraged me to start projects of my own. At a lot of larger institutions, you wouldn’t get a chance to spend time with your professors and get to know them personally. At IC, that’s a given.”
Another one of Adeesha’s projects is a video game for physical therapy patients. Exercises recorded by the therapist are performed by a virtual figure on a Microsoft Kinect system. Appearing as a second figure, the patient is challenged to mimic the virtual one. The more accurately the exercise is performed, the more points the patient earns.
Adeesha also worked with assistant professor of computer science Doug Turnbull on MeUse, an Internet radio recommender. When a listener uses MeUse to search for an artist, it recommends three Internet radio stations and provides information to help the user choose. A paper on the project was accepted for presentation at the 14th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference.
“I’d originally planned going back to Sri Lanka after graduation, but there are too many employment and research opportunities in the U.S. to pass up, and IC opened my eyes to them.”
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.
More on this story: Financial Management Association and Investment Club
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.
Odds are good the technology you’ll use 20 years from now hasn’t been dreamed up yet. For modern-day communications experts like Susan Cort, things like websites, blogs, and social media are industry basics today. But they weren’t when she was a student at Ithaca College.
“It’s funny because everything I’m in charge of now was not invented when I was at IC,” she says.
Susan coordinates public relations for an integrated communications company that helps clients with marketing solutions across multiple media platforms. Her position builds on a varied career as a TV news anchor and reporter, PR director for the Hershey resort, high school broadcast journalism teacher, and successful communications freelancer.
Despite the technological change she’s witnessed firsthand, she says IC gave her the foundation to understand how to communicate and tell stories regardless of media evolution.
“You’ll need to be flexible so you can take everything you’ve learned in school and in your career and apply it to whatever the next thing is--whatever the latest technology is and however people are communicating,” Susan says.
Hands-on opportunities at Ithaca helped Susan focus her passion for communications. She immersed herself in the college TV and radio stations, anchoring news programs, hosting shows, and working on coverage during the 1984 election. She also interned at CNN in New York City, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (during a semester abroad in London), and the New Jersey Nightly News in Newark.
“I had real-world experiences at 18, 19 years old,” Susan says. “When I was ready to get a job, not only did I have a fabulous education from a college that had a terrific reputation; I had experience. I had demo tapes that showed I could be a broadcast journalist.”
On a recent tour of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at IC, Susan says the evolution of technology between her time as a student and today boggled her mind. “The student guides were showing me the Macs and all the high-tech equipment they had there and I said, ‘Wow. When I was here, we sat in the hall and wrote our news scripts on electric typewriters.’ The whole group got really quiet. They couldn’t imagine that.”
Whether you graduated in 1986 or will graduate in 2016, the benefits of Ithaca College are constant. “The combination of a quality education and real hands-on experience make me feel like, as IC grads, we’re kind of unstoppable,” Susan says. “We can do anything we set out to do.”
A lot of people dream of traveling the world. Not many dream of educating it. Shannon Burns came to Ithaca College with an interest in multicultural music education, which led her to an exciting future teaching and learning about music across the globe.
Shannon’s international travels began with a class she took during her senior year at Ithaca College. "I’ve always been interested in other people’s cultures and the impact that music has, but it really came into focus while I was studying African drumming and dance at Ithaca," says Shannon. Assisting in class was the School of Music’s artist in residence, Sulley Imoro. At the end of the semester, Shannon spent four weeks in Ghana with Imoro, studying the music and dance of another culture.
Spending time abroad sparked Shannon’s desire to compare Irish and African music, and to explore music as a tool for bridging cultural gaps. When she learned of the School of Music’s ties to Ireland’s University of Limerick, she applied to the master’s program in ethnomusicology there and was accepted.
After completing her master’s degree, Shannon was recruited by the University of Limerick to teach music theory to undergraduate students. She and some friends also launched a music center in the local community. The purpose of the center is to "make music more accessible, whether it’s through providing scholarships, production fees, or an instrument bank," she says.
Pursuing music education in Ireland wasn’t the last stop for Shannon—she recently returned to Africa on a volunteer trip to Mozambique. "My experience with African drumming and dance at Ithaca and in Ghana helped me bond with people in Mozambique—talking about dance, dancing, or singing with them.
"Visiting Africa again reaffirmed for me how important music is to the overall being and how it is a medium through which people can connect and experience life, regardless of language barriers," Shannon says.
Fairy tales are woven around nuggets of wisdom or truth. When Christina Bryant crafted a fairy tale during her senior year at Ithaca College, she folded in themes that explore her own revelations in life.
Jemila’s Tale is a 10-minute short that Christina wrote, directed, and edited as her senior thesis in the cinema and photography program. It’s about a 6-year-old girl who creates her own fairy tales after her local library runs out of the genre, and it explores themes of identity and ethnic representation through Jemila’s imagination.
“I was inspired to write the short after I'd finished a documentary about black Barbie dolls,” Christina says. “I thought about what it would look like if a young black [girl] created her own images of herself in places she felt excluded, like fairy tales for example.”
Those projects came together after Christina hit her stride as a film student, which she says happened during her last two years at IC. “Once you know the films you want to make, or you know you want to work with a camera, or you want to write, or do production design, your path becomes clear,” Christina says.
Jemila’s Tale was shown in three different film festivals after Christina graduated. She also took a two-month fellowship in North Carolina, followed by volunteer work at several other film festivals, including Sundance and SXSW. Her natural drive meshed well with her IC experience.
“Over the semesters, I actually began to crave a busy schedule because it brought out my best creative work,” Christina says. “Why not take non-major classes like African American Popular Music and Sociology of Sexualities, co-lead a non-profit video project with my fellow Park Scholars, paint a shed during a weekend Habitat for Humanity Build, and find local actors to be extras for a web series about Finger Lakes wine?”
Though she’s left IC, she thinks that work ethic is especially important to her budding film career. “By wearing different hats as a screenwriter, producer, set designer, social media guru, even holding a heavy light or two, I am still just as committed to the larger mission at hand: to tell a good story using film,” Christina says.
“That's how real life is. You have to find your passion in everything, no matter how small.”
>> More on this story: Park Scholars Program
Original photo of Christina and her young actress by Allie Taylor '11, producer of Jemila's Tale.
When Susannah Faulkner came to Ithaca College, she knew she was interested in politics. She didn’t know that a food allergy would lead to a passion for activism.
“As a freshman, I came into Ithaca having a severe intolerance to gluten,” Susannah recalls. “Eating in the dining hall is such a social experience, and it was really hard for me because I’d have to bring bread in the dining hall and worry about cross-contamination.”
Through her frustration, Susannah saw an opportunity to help other students. She successfully ran for Student Government Association senator for her class. “My main platform was promoting celiac awareness and food allergy awareness on campus, except I literally had no idea it would turn into my calling of some sort.”
Susannah worked with IC staff to change the menu, with supportive professors to encourage her along the way. “My academic adviser, Kelly Dietz in the politics department, was the most incredible mentor a young, passionate, driven student could ask for. Any time I threw a crazy idea at her, she would tell me how to make it happen.”
In November 2009, the gluten-free pantry opened in the Campus Center Dining Hall. “Because Ithaca is such an inclusive community, it’s so welcoming, and it’s so open to change, I was able to put forth this idea and actually see results.”
Her political path did not end there. As a senior, Susannah was elected vice president of campus affairs and co-founded the Food Allergy Awareness Club. Thanks to her efforts, there is now a gluten-free pantry in every dining hall on the Ithaca College campus. “I can’t imagine doing this anywhere else. I was in the perfect place at the perfect time in the perfect community to make a change that was really needed.”
After graduation, Susannah was recruited by Udi’s Gluten Free Foods as their university outreach specialist. The passion she found at IC has become her full-time career—leading a gluten-free revolution on campuses across the country.
“I work with interns who remind me so much of myself during my time at Ithaca,” she says. “They’re this little army of gluten-free warriors.”
>> More on this story: Student Organizations at IC
Jeff Ball decided he wanted to be a band director while in high school. That made Ithaca College’s renowned music education program the easy choice.
“School districts know that Ithaca College is the best music education coming out of the Northeast,” he says. “A degree from IC puts you at the top of every pile of interviews.” After graduation, Jeff had his pick of jobs in multiple school districts but was dedicated to working in an urban setting. After starting as a general music teacher in the Bronx, he transferred to Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn to take over the band director position. The out-going director was an IC music grad who brought Jeff in because of their shared background.
“She told me, ‘I saw Ithaca on the diploma and I wanted to interview you,’” Jeff says. He landed the job and has been building the program ever since—from 45 kids to 180 currently. This growth is all the more significant considering the vast majority of students in the school are below the poverty line.
“These are kids who really can’t afford their own instruments and can’t afford private lessons. But the quality of performance is extremely high, even though the kids have only been playing for three years,” Jeff says.
This year, Jeff is coordinating the entire performing arts department at the school. As if all that wasn’t enough to fill his calendar, he also conducts the Brooklyn Wind Symphony, a premier wind ensemble composed of 75 semiprofessional adult musicians—many of them IC grads.
“Other people go to their jobs and in their spare time do the things that make them happy,” he says. “Conducting and teaching are the things that make me happy. I’m very fortunate that I get to do what I do.”
>> More on this story: Music Education Teaching Programs
As Queen of the Night in the Ithaca College Theatre production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, Mengchun Yang delivered one of the world's most well-known arias to a packed audience. She stunned the crowd with her pitch-perfect performance, bringing the vengeful queen to life with her commanding stage presence.
For Mengchun, the journey to the IC stage was a long one—halfway around the world—but she knew that a graduate degree in performance at Ithaca College would be well worth the trip. She auditioned in her home country of China and wowed visiting faculty with her powerful soprano. Late that summer, Mengchun packed her bags and was on her way to Ithaca.
In IC's welcoming community, Mengchun quickly found a second family—music professors invited her over for home-cooked meals, music school peers helped her overcome the language barrier, and the women's chorus and choir provided a place for her to sing with new friends. She soon learned of an opportunity to broaden her range: "During my first semester, they had auditions for The Magic Flute. I just went to try. I never thought I would get a role or be a part of the opera, but I got it," Mengchun says.
She was cast as Queen of the Night, which has one of the most vocally demanding arias in opera. In nightly rehearsals with a supportive cast and crew, she developed her passion for opera. "I learned many things. I know how to prepare a whole opera: to learn the music and then read the dialogue and then the acting—and mix it together with the orchestra."
When opening night arrived, her music school family helped calm her nerves. "I was very excited and a little bit nervous. My friends and my teachers were all sitting in the audience to see me. That made me feel like family. I felt like, 'Okay. I can sing to my family.'"
Mengchun hopes to go on to sing opera professionally in China, where it’s becoming increasingly popular. With one outstanding performance already under her belt, she has a promising future as one of China's next stars.
"Being on stage, you are not yourself. You are that person. You have another personality. You need to build a person and have yourself and mix them together. I feel like I can see my value being on stage."
Before Mike Severo came to Ithaca College, his life was focused mainly on music. As a talented boy soprano, he had performed with stars like Bruce Springsteen and Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall. When his voice changed, so did his musical direction. He transitioned to piano and percussion and continued to grow his skills.
But when it came time to choose a major, Mike made the big decision to move away from a career in music. At a college with a nationally known music school, he knew he'd have exciting musical opportunities, so he wanted to focus on another area for his profession--he just wasn't sure what it would be.
"One of my friends had told me about the flexibility of the Exploratory Program," Mike explains. "There's an emphasis on growing organically with the school and developing where you think you can derive the most value."
The program gives students up to four semesters to take courses in various areas of study to find the best fit for their career. As a freshman, Mike took a seminar about math and music, and through his passion for music he discovered a strength in math that led him in a whole new direction. His faculty adviser helped him decide what courses to take from there. "The best thing about advisers is that if you have goals, they can help you plan so that you can achieve those goals."
Mike focused his path on finance and accounting, and secured an internship at FBR, a leading investment bank. During his senior year, he led a team of his peers to victory in the Adirondack Cup competition by achieving the greatest return on a hypothetical million-dollar investment portfolio. Ithaca College bested undergraduate and graduate students from 17 other colleges and universities in New England and New York, including Hofstra University, SUNY Plattsburgh, Clarkson University, and SUNY Stony Brook. (You can read more about Mike leading his team to success in the Ithacan.)
Mike is excited about his future in finance as he approaches graduation, and he will continue to enjoy a musical life outside of work. He is confident that the Exploratory Program helped him make the right choices. "Sometimes life pushes you in a direction, and you end up in a place you never thought you'd be--but you find yourself loving it."
More on this story: The Center for Trading and Analysis of Financial Instruments
The women’s pentathlon has five events. The shot put demands strength. The 800-meter run requires speed. The 100-meter hurdles and the long and high jumps call for agility. As a runner and jumper in high school, Emma Dewart ’12, M.S. ’13, had an offer to be a pentathlete and turned it down.
“I didn’t want to do it because I’d never thrown a shot put, I’d never hurdled, and I didn’t run an 800,” she said.
Weeks before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health education, Emma won her second consecutive NCAA national pentathlon championship with one of the highest point totals in the history of women’s Division III track and field. She was also named the 2012 Empire 8 woman of the year in recognition of her academic achievement, athletic excellence, and community service. Her rise to national acclaim began her freshman year at IC.
“When Coach [Jennifer] Potter first explained that I’d make a good pentathlete, I had lots of doubts,” Emma said. “But I knew she was very good at recognizing strengths, so I couldn’t say no.”
The next day, Emma began her hurdling career.
“I’ll never forget how awful I was. The difficulty wasn’t just learning new physical skills but developing the mentality to switch from event to event, to recover from a bad performance and move on.”
A full course load, which included a four-credit anatomy class, also challenged her. “Like track, juggling athletics and academics takes discipline.”
That discipline rewarded Emma while student-teaching health education.
“I’d never taught high schoolers. I didn’t feel prepared, but having competed in big meets, I knew how to handle my nerves. After the first week, students began telling me how classroom topics such as ‘disease and lifestyle’ related directly to their experiences. Gaining that new perspective, I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life connecting with students.”
Currently preparing for a teaching career, Emma is pursuing a master’s degree in health education at IC.
“Coming out of high school, I never expected I’d be so successful in track,” she said. “Responding to a coach’s challenge taught me to aim high in everything.”
>> More on this story: "Dewart Named 2012 Empire 8 Woman of the Year" - Bombers Athletics
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
School of Music | Music with an Outside Field | Physical Therapy
College athletes aren’t strangers to physical therapy. Injuries need to be prevented or treated when they occur. But Ellie Phillips-Burdge wasn’t an athlete when she developed an overuse injury and sought out PT; she was a dedicated piano student at Ithaca College.
The treatment she received sparked her interest in physical therapy, and Ellie took on exercise science as part of her bachelor of music with an outside field program. At the time, the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance had just begun offering a class and summer workshop that focused on preventing injuries in musicians.
“I was able to recognize a lot of parallels between elite athletes and professional musicians,” Ellie says.
She quickly went about combining her two passions. During her senior year, Ellie presented an independent study on the effects movement, stretch, and relaxation techniques have on musical performers.
“It was a great opportunity for me to showcase the direction I was going in to combine these different worlds,” Ellie says.
A decade after graduating with her degree in music, Ellie came back to Ithaca to get a master’s degree in physical therapy to better blend the disciplines. Now she’s growing her own business, providing physical therapy for performing artists, musical education for disabled individuals, and traditional, stand-alone services in both music education and physical therapy.
Ellie admits music and PT is an uncommon combo, but says musicians and the general public alike are becoming familiar with the emerging field of performing arts medicine. This is certainly the case at Ithaca College, which now has dedicated lab space and a nearly 20-year history of working with performance artists to treat and prevent injuries.
“I think it is something unique the college offers compared to other institutions,” she says.
>> More on this story: School of Health Sciences and Human Performance
Allyce Barron had a problem when it came to deciding how to approach her future. “Since high school I had been torn between music and neuroscience. I actually applied to schools for both, so I could determine what I wanted to do.” Lucky for Allyce, she found she could do both at Ithaca College.
As a music education major, Allyce created a course in music cognition that allowed her to research how children learn in the classroom. “My independent study research was specifically about chunking and immersion learning. Do students learn a song better in pieces or when they are immersed into it all at once?”
With the help of a professor in the music theory department, Allyce experimented with teaching her 10-and 11-year old students songs using the chunking and immersion teaching strategies. She found that the students learned the song better if they were immersed in the entire piece repeatedly. “It was a surprising finding. All of the students felt initial frustration with the immersion, but figured out how to adapt to learn the piece.”
Allyce is now in grad school at Harvard, where she is studying the relationship the brain has with learning, especially in classroom settings. Looking back, she relishes the opportunity she had at Ithaca. “The rigor of the music education program is profound. It’s amazing that undergraduate students can take so much ownership in their learning. Thanks to Ithaca College, I feel ready to change the way students learn.”
Amanda Schlenker arrived at Ithaca College in the fall of her freshman year knowing she wanted to become an occupational therapist. What she didn’t know was how far an IC education could take her in this interactive, hands-on field.
She completed Ithaca’s five-year, B.S./M.S. occupational therapy program in 2009, and then launched her career in Boston with Thom Child & Family Services, a leading provider of programs for children with developmental difficulties.
“It was a job where I had to be independent,” she says. “My classes and fieldwork and internships gave me the experiences and the self-confidence I needed.”
Her experiences included work at the College’s own OT clinic, internships that put her classroom knowledge to real-world test, an anatomy class where she dissected a human cadaver (an option for OT students), and a thesis exploring how happiness affects performance, which she presented at the World OT Conference in Santiago, Chile.
Now she’s back in the Ithaca area, working at Child’s Play Occupational Therapy where she helps kids overcome challenges to live more fulfilled lives.
“I specialized in sensory integration,” Amanda says. “Everything we do comes to us through our senses. If there’s a problem there, it can throw off a kid’s world. So I come in and help families see how their child is interpreting the world differently, and then I offer ways to help get the kids back on track.”
Child’s Play is run by the IC faculty member who taught the pediatric occupational therapy courses Amanda took at Ithaca.
As for the future, Amanda is full of ideas. She’d like to combine music with occupational therapy, practice in a low-income community, or perhaps return to South America to share her skills.
“I knew in high school that OT would be a good fit for me,” she says. “I just followed that pathway through IC to graduation and into my career. There are so many opportunities. Ithaca’s given me the resources I need to learn and grow.”
>> More on this story: Occupational and Physical Therapy Clinic
Good educators stick with their students until the concepts they’re teaching gel. Considering his research area, Andy Smith, a biology professor at Ithaca College, might have a slight advantage.
Andy and his student researchers—all of them undergraduates at IC—study the unique properties of the gel that snails use to stick themselves to surfaces, even slippery rocks battered by ocean waves. It might not sound like the most exciting topic, but Andy points out the incredible potential.
“Gel like this would make an ideal medical adhesive because it would stick to wet surfaces, and no matter how much the tissue flexed and bent, the gel would flex and bend with it,” he says.
Andy’s student researchers are there because the work is as exciting to them as it is to their professor. Sure, Ithaca requires science students to immerse themselves in lab research for one semester, but placement is based on student preference. Many continue beyond that one semester and eventually earn the autonomy to run their own projects and experiments, assist in data analysis, and author papers submitted for publication.
“I really like working with students in the lab because every day is different, and you never know what you’re going to find,” Andy says. “It’s a terrific process of seeing students grow in independence, maturity, and intellectual sophistication.”
That sort of hands-on learning is central to the Ithaca College experience.
“You can learn so much more in a research lab than in a classroom because research is a big, complex project,” Andy says. “You don’t know the answers, but you become responsible for finding them.”
>> More on this story: Andy Smith's faculty profile
Offering a good grounding in communications, marketing, and business, IC’s integrated marketing communications major is one-stop shopping for prospective public relations and advertising professionals. Christianne Enos couldn’t find a similar program at any other school. She wasn’t thrilled, though, with central New York’s less-than-balmy weather and its distance from her home near New York City.
“I knew that once I graduated from IC, I’d be able to do public relations, advertising, and marketing,” Christianne said. “So, I picked the college for its curriculum and planned to deal with whatever else came my way.”
“Whatever else” turned out to be an unforeseen chain of events that started her freshman year, when Christianne joined IC’s student chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). That led to Christianne’s election as the organization’s secretary, which positioned her to answer “yes” when faculty adviser Scott Hamula asked if any AAF officers cared to try for a Stickell internship, a paid, 10-week, hands-on opportunity available only to student members of the AAF. After a demanding selection process, Christianne was one of 15 applicants chosen from 200 student chapters nationwide. Assigned to IBM’s corporate headquarters, Christianne worked with the company’s advertising team and its agency, Ogilvy & Mather. From that experience came contacts, and from those contacts, a job. Christianne is now an assistant account executive at Ogilvy. Her account? IBM.
“The internship got me into the real world,” Christianne said. “My bosses and team members pushed me to challenge myself, and as a result, I learned the ins and outs of business-to-business marketing and how to maintain a client-agency relationship. A lot of advertising is learned once you get there.”
And getting there meant taking that first step into the unknown.
“Everything I experienced at IC prepared me for this job,” Christianne said, “and for my next job and the job after that. At IC, I learned to be ready for the unexpected.”
More on this story: AAF Student Chapter
Eric Leibensperger was always interested in outdoorsy things, and at Ithaca College he became even more interested in the environment. “I eventually double majored in physics and chemistry to learn how to apply science to environmental issues,” he says.
Eric recently completed his Ph.D. at Harvard, and he credits his experiences in Ithaca’s science departments with giving him the ideal foundation for success.
“In a Ph.D. program you’re doing research all the time, and Ithaca was great preparation for that. I did research nearly every semester, and I learned the fundamentals for everything. I learned to think logically. I learned to write and present research. And when you do research at Ithaca, you work side-by-side with faculty and get lots of hands-on experience. At Harvard, that gave me a big leg up on students who’d been undergrads at large research universities but didn’t have that kind of experience,” he observes.
Eric’s doctoral thesis examines climate change from two sides of a coin—how climate affects air quality and how air quality affects climate.
“My field—atmospheric chemistry—straddles chemistry and physics, so my Ithaca majors were the perfect fit. I’ve just begun a postdoctorate program at MIT, looking at similar issues in the stratosphere. Long term, I’d like to become a professor,” he says.
Eric points out that while Ithaca is a great place to learn science, it’s not just a science school. There are plenty of opportunities to explore other disciplines and pursue personal passions, too.
“I was really into music before coming to IC, and I knew it was a really strong college for that. I took music classes right along with the music students, and played bass in a jazz ensemble. That kind of balance helps you manage your time and stay sane. At Ithaca, you really get the whole experience.”
>> More on this story: Undergraduate Research at IC: Learn by Doing
It’s not easy to find free time in Jake Tenenbaum’s schedule. The business administration major has minors in integrated marketing communications and legal studies, and he also spends time as co-president of Ithaca’s chapter of the American Marketing Association. So when does he sleep?
“It’s going to sound nerdy, but for me the work is fun. Ithaca is such a hands-on school, and it’s given me the opportunity to learn such an incredible amount inside the classroom and through different student organizations. For instance, my consumer behavior class helped me understand the reasons the professionals at my internships made many of the decisions they did while I was there.”
“With the Business Link organization, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and helping others connect with alumni in their industry. We help students beginning in their freshman year to get in touch with alumni in their hometown, allowing them to foster relationships in an off-campus setting.”
Those experiences came in handy, scoring Jake an exciting internship in New York City with alumnus Chris Burch’s newest venture. Burch’s company, J. Christopher Capital, which owns the popular tech brands Powermat and Jawbone, had two fashion lines that were nearing their launch. “I was involved in the process of designing taglines and comparison charts for the two new companies, C Wonder and Monika Chiang,” Jake says. “It was just an amazing chance to organize all of my skills from Ithaca in one place.”
Jake plans on graduating a year early and already has a job offer on the table thanks to the connections he’s made through Ithaca. “I feel ready to lead. I want to go out and do well, and the links I made with business professionals due to my involvement on campus have placed me right where I want to be.”
Editor's Note: Jake impressed CEO and Ithaca alumnus Chris Burch '76 so much during his internship that Chris offered Jake a vital client-facing role at J. Christopher Capital immediately following graduation. Jake now works as a corporate gifting coordinator promoting the C. Wonder and Monika Chiang brands.
When Karlita Bleam first began to research colleges, she had a few important factors in mind. She wanted a school with a top film studies program and one that also gave students the flexibility to pursue multiple interests.
“An important thing to me was being able to come to a school and not need to transfer if I decided to change focus,” she says.
When she arrived at IC, Karlita planned to study film and marketing, but during her sophomore year her horizons began to broaden. “I was taking this documentary film class at the same time I was taking a sociology class, and they just paired so well,” she explains.
Thus her new path was born: a dual major in sociology and cinema, with plans to eventually teach sociology at the collegiate level and present her research in documentary form.
“Once I figured it out, I was like, ‘Yes!’ Everything just clicked,” Karlita says.
Karlita has tailored her college experience to reflect her extracurricular interests, too. She is a tour guide for both the College and the Roy H. Park School of Communications, a residential adviser, cochair for a new peer mentoring program and, most recently, a teaching assistant. All of these positions have given her invaluable experience with time management, working with groups, mentoring, and teaching.
“This is what I was looking for: a school where I’d have multiple opportunities,” Karlita says. “One thing led to another and then another, and then to something that you never imagined.”
As the saying goes, it’s not just what you know, but who you know that matters. Matt Palmaccio leveraged the marketing skills and professional connections he made at Ithaca College to get his career off to a flying start.
As a student, Matt built his confidence and real-world marketing knowledge through his coursework, group projects involving local businesses, and as a recruiter for the College’s chapter of the American Marketing Association.
“Those experiences gave me a professional demeanor, as well as the working knowledge of marketing and advertising that I needed to successfully interview for jobs,” he says.
The path to his current position at Details began when he attended a career fair as a senior in the School of Business. He stayed in touch with a recruiter he met from a media planning company in New York City and was called for an interview when he was about to graduate.
Matt got the job and worked for a pharmaceutical company on media planning, which included choosing the magazines the company advertised in. Marketing was his real passion, and he found himself drawn to the magazine industry, especially when a coworker went to work at publisher Conde Nast, which produces Details.
“We got together for lunch because I wanted to find out what he was doing there,” Matt says, and the lunch conversation piqued his interest even more. “That’s how I ended up switching over to the marketing side of magazines.”
Matt was hired at Conde Nast, transitioned to Hearst, and was then drawn back to Conde. “The interesting thing about magazines is that, in New York, it’s kind of a small world once you’ve worked in it,” he notes. “So when a job opened back up at Conde Nast, the human resources person called and said, ‘There’s an opening at Details I think you would be really good for.’”
Matt credits the networking skills he learned and relationships he made through the School of Business with kick-starting his career. “Obviously, Ithaca is kind of far from New York City, but they have established great connections to different places.”
>> More on this story: Business Administration: Marketing Concentration
School of Humanities and Sciences | Theatrical Production Arts
“I was 10 when I saw the stage production of The Lion King, and I knew right then I wanted to make theatre my career,” said Max Doolittle ’11. “The trouble was, I suffered from stage fright, and that led me to work backstage.”
Max started painting scenery before discovering his calling was lighting and design.
“In high school, I was looking for a college program that would teach me how to create moving theatre in the real world,” Max said. “I picked IC because lots of people told me that if I was thinking about theatre design, I needed to consider Ithaca College.”
By the time Max graduated with a B.F.A. in theatre production arts, the “real world” that he had been aiming for turned out to be the place where he’d studied for four years.
In addition to Max’s experience as lighting designer for two Ithaca College Theatre productions, his undergraduate resume included more than a dozen gigs with central New York theatre companies as well as assignments as associate or assistant lighting designer at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Adirondack Theatre Festival, and Minnesota Opera.
“The spring of my senior year, another student and I collaborated with faculty mentor Steve TenEyck in producing Salome with the Minnesota Opera,” Max said. “We created the scenery and worked with Steve to figure out the lighting for each scene. It was a large-scale opera with world-class singers and musicians. I was amazed to see how the real world operates and also to have that strong credit on my resume.”
Max spent the summer after graduation working on regional shows and is now in demand for various theatre projects in NYC at Access Theatre, Ars Nova Theatre, Soho Rep Theatre, and The Juilliard School, among others.
“I could talk forever about model constructing, computer drafting, and all the practical skills the IC theatre faculty taught me,” Max said. “But beyond that, there’s an indescribable something. I’m going to call it professionalism. At IC, they run things exactly the way a regional theatre would, from the proper way to communicate with directors to how to come up with design ideas. The skills I learned at IC are the same ones I’m using now in my career.”
>> More on this story: Department of Theatre Arts
“I’m not a big-city person, and I was anxious about this big-city internship,” wrote Meghan, a senior journalism major, in an article chronicling her experiences at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. “Could I do the job? Would I handle the pressure?”
The answer was yes. A sophomore when NBC chose her and 30 other IC student interns to help produce the winter Olympics, Meghan rose to the challenge of meeting ever-shifting deadlines in what she called “a giant makeshift mouse maze” beneath the Vancouver Convention Centre. Prompted by editors’ notes scribbled on unpainted walls, Meghan created athlete profiles, assembled research packets, and met Tom Brokaw in the process. That intense, 17-day experience was another step in a journey that began with Meghan’s arrival at IC.
“I come from a really small town, where everybody has the same mindset,” she said. “At IC, it was eye-opening to discover a broad spectrum of opinions and backgrounds and so many organizations to join. Part of me said, ‘I’m just a freshman; there’s nothing I can do.’ Another part of me said, ‘Go for it.’ ”
And go for it she did. As a freshman, she honed her management skills through the Leadership Scholars Program and connected with another leadership scholar, Christine Evans, to cofound the IC chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA).
“The organization is a national nonprofit that helps people struggling with suicide, self-injury, and addiction,” Meghan said. “We’ve developed a committed core of people willing to show their fellow students that, despite pain and suffering, there’s hope. Writing love on your arm signifies the healing power of compassion.”
While serving as TWLOHA’s president, Meghan went a step farther and volunteered to coordinate events and educational initiatives for a local suicide prevention agency.
“My leadership opportunities at IC have tested me and made me stronger,” she said. “There’s still a little fear when I face a challenge, but I’m not that timid girl coming out of high school anymore. I’m ready to dive head-first into my future.”
School of Health Sciences and Human Performance | Exercise Science
“My job is pretty cool, especially on those days when I get to fly in an F-18.” For Pat Dougherty, those flights are the culmination of years of study that started at Ithaca College.
The exercise science graduate had always played sports, but his professors turned him on to running studies, which he immediately found himself drawn to. “I was curious about how the body worked and exercise physiology is a lot about running at its core. If I was going to study it, I might as well do a lot of it. So that’s when I started running marathons and since then I’ve switched to triathlons.”
Pat’s passion for exercise science led him to pursue his master’s degree and later his doctorate, but that’s where things took a turn. “I realized an academic career wasn’t for me. I wanted something a little more exciting, so I applied and was eventually commissioned as a lieutenant in the Naval aerospace physiology program in 2009.”
Now Pat spends his days providing training for anyone in the service who might be involved in flying. The physiological threats a member of a flight crew can be exposed to include hypoxia, which is a special disorientation that occurs when there isn’t enough blood flow to the brain. This happens sometimes in flights that reach multiple g-forces, and it can have catastrophic results. One of the tools Pat has at his disposal is the only “high-G” human centrifuge in the U.S. Navy, which spins its subjects under multiple g-forces to mimic the sensations hypoxia may bring.
“It’s like a wicked carnival ride. There’s a big motor in the center, and we spin them around in this room, which exposes them to increased accelerations like they would feel in the air. I’ve gone through it a few times, so I can safely say that it’s pretty intense.”
Come February, Pat will move to Corpus Christi, where he will become an air medical safety officer. It’s another challenge he feels completely ready for. “I haven’t taken the most linear path since I left Ithaca, but everything I learned on South Hill has helped push me to the next level of my career.”
>> More on this story: Watch a video of pilot training in the human centrifuge
Looking for a good reason to study business at Ithaca College? Shamika Edwards has one for you: “Ithaca’s School of Business absolutely prepares you for the real world,” she says.
And the keys to that preparation? For Shamika, it starts with the faculty.
“They push you to advance personally and professionally,” says Shamika, who’s now pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at Ithaca College. “They care about whether you’re growing, whether you’re learning, whether you’re getting something out of the experience.”
Then there’s the fact that at Ithaca, preparation for the real world of business means immersing yourself in it.
En route to her undergraduate diploma, Shamika led a team of Ithaca students to an impressive second-place finish in the Deloitte NABA NY Case Study Competition, a rigorous national student challenge sponsored by the National Association of Black Accountants and international financial services giant Deloitte.“They said we were one of the best-prepared teams,” says Shamika, who now has a job waiting for her at Deloitte when she finishes her M.B.A. “Ithaca faculty were extremely helpful, staying after hours to help us prepare. It was such a valuable part of my education.”
Shamika, who’s from Barbados, came a long way to attend Ithaca. And she’s poised to go even farther when she graduates.
“I’ll be at a global firm solving global problems in a global world,” she says. “I am a stronger person, a wiser person, and a better person because of Ithaca.”
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.”
School of Health Sciences and Human Performance | Clinical Exercise Science
A sure way to impress on a job interview is to answer questions with relevant examples drawn from experience. That’s exactly what Christine Giovinazzo ’11 did as a candidate for a position at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Christine drew on her experiences working with IC Fit Kids, a program on the Ithaca College campus designed to show children and teens the benefits of exercise and healthy living.
“A lot of my interview questions were scenario-based, and I was able to answer the majority of them based on my experiences working with the kids,” she says.
Those experiences ranged from developing customized fitness plans for kids—be they couch potatoes or promising athletes—to working with parents to address questions and alleviate concerns. It turned out to be great preparation for the interview at CHOP, which is one of the premiere hospitals for children in the country.
Days before she graduated from IC, Christine found out she landed the job as a physical therapy specialist in the hospital’s healthy weight program. Now, she trains children in different exercises and activities, and works with a range of other specialists in the hospital, all with the goal of guiding overweight and morbidly obese children to healthier futures.
Christine is positive the opportunity to work with a program like IC Fit Kids was one of the biggest reasons she got the job. The program gave her more hands-on experience than the average college graduate, she says.
“That was really something that impressed the interviewers,” Christine reflects. “I don’t think they often get candidates right out of college who have worked so directly with kids.”
>> More on this story: IC Fit Kids - Fuse
For Kristen Barry, working in Hollywood is not just a day at the beach. Sometimes it’s a morning on the mountain or a night at the skate park. No matter where she is, she’s always in on the action.
As a sports broadcast producer at Transition, Kristen creates webcasts and broadcasts of surf events, working on location and behind the scenes to produce short features. When she’s not on the beach, Kristen is working as ESPN’s Winter and Summer X Games talent coordinator. “I work with agents and publicists and sometimes go right to the athletes to try to get them to come on X Center,” Kristen says.
For Kristen, making her way in broadcasting was all about finding the right path and the right people. She found both as an undergraduate at Ithaca College, where she got the opportunity to intern at E! and Style Network. “There was this huge database of internships that IC already had contact with, so it cut through a lot of red tape.”
Kristen’s internship experiences made two things clear to her: she belonged in broadcasting, and she wanted to move to L.A. after graduation. Hollywood is a tough place for a recent grad to start a career, but Kristen faced it with confidence. “I left New York with a good deal of knowledge in editing, writing, and advertising—all areas that helped me build a great foundation. Within about a month of graduating, I had lined up my first production assistant position.”
From there, Kristen built a successful freelance career, doing production work on reality television, documentaries, and live events. Now, she has found her creative home in sports broadcasting, working action-packed events every day. “I was very lucky to combine my passion for action sports with my background in live television.”
>> More on this story: Park School of Communications internships
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
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 came to Ithaca College eager to dive into the world of college slam poetry. When I found out there was no slam poetry group on campus, though, I took the opportunity to start one.
Spit That! turned out to be the perfect complement to my education in the Department of Theatre Arts. I polished my acting skills in classes and gained experience in productions. My work with Spit That! taught me firsthand how to organize shows, coordinate rehearsals, run meetings, work with a board, produce, and direct.
At IC, I was truly blessed with the chance to combine the two things I love most—acting and poetry. Nearly a year after graduation, I’m still bringing them together. I applied everything I learned at Ithaca to produce, direct, and act in Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale, a show I wrote with three others.
Our play blends poetry and theatre to explore issues surrounding gentrification in Harlem while attesting to the rich culture and history of one of New York City’s famed neighborhoods. The show played to sold-out audiences in Times Square and led to an extended run last summer.
Now we’re taking the show on a college tour, starting at Ithaca College, of course! That’s where it all came together for me. IC gave me the tools to build the career of my dreams and the opportunity to expand my education through my own creativity.
Editor’s note: Jaylene continues to take New York City’s performance world by storm, winning first place at Amateur Night at the Apollo. Jaylene impressed her hometown crowd in Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater with an impassioned spoken word piece and secured her place in the historic talent competition. She’ll be competing this October in the final round for the chance to win the title of Super Top Dog and a $10,000 cash prize.
More on this story: "Spit It Out!" - Fuse
“I describe Ithaca as a ‘choose your own adventure’ experience,” says Alex Moore ’07. His own Ithaca College adventure has taken a winding and rewarding path.
When Alex decided to add a writing minor to his politics major, his father suggested (as fathers do) that a grant writing course might make him more employable. Alex took his father’s advice and during the course, he read a book about nonprofit organizations. Its author, Robert Egger, was president of a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that helps the homeless. Alex emailed Egger, Egger emailed back, and shortly afterward Alex was on his way to intern at Egger’s organization, DC Central Kitchen, to write grant proposals.
“It’s one of those Ithaca chain reactions where you start in one place and wind up someplace very different,” Alex says. “What motivated me was the question of poverty—how does it happen and what can we do about it?”
Questions of poverty, human rights, and social justice continue to shape Alex’s career. He has completed a master’s degree, and now he’s working on his Ph.D. in political science, focusing his studies on humanitarian intervention in international relations. His goal is to become a college professor. “I want to have the kind of impact that my Ithaca professors had on me,” he says.
And just what was that impact? “Ithaca taught me the value of examining the unquestioned ground I stand on,” Alex says. “It’s social change. It’s changing the way people think. It’s asking big questions about the world and yourself.”
Journalists want to stay on top of a story, not be the focus. It’s hard not to take notice of up-and-comer Aaron Edwards, though.
The senior journalism major at Ithaca College has interned with some of the biggest names in the business, but it all started by signing up to write for IC’s nationally-recognized student paper, the Ithacan. Three weeks later, his first article was published, but not without a lot of work.
“When I filed my first story during freshman year, my editor sat me down, politely told me that it was a hot mess, and worked with me for hours to fine tune it,” he says.
Aaron’s experiences at IC set the stage for his internship with CBS, where he conducted preliminary interviews for the Evening News with Katie Couric; for his stint with the New York Times Institute, where he reported about the impact of the Gulf oil spill on coastal towns; and for an internship with the Associated Press bureau in London, where he interviewed Jesse Eisenberg and other celebrities, covered protests, and worked on the field team covering the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Now Aaron’s bringing all his real-world experience back to The Ithacan’s top post as editor-in-chief. And he’s ready for life after IC with a competitive job waiting at the New York Times as one of four James Reston Reporting Fellows.
“I’m reassured because I put in the time, and the hours of work at school. I feel like I’ve set myself up for early success after I graduate,” he says.
>> More on this story: The Ithacan
For me, musical performance has always been about the visible and tangible effects of art on an audience. Touring with Ithaca College ensembles gave me those experiences locally and in major cities like New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. But a chance encounter at IC is what really set me on my current path.
When I auditioned and got placed in the Women’s Chorale, I was wowed by the level of instruction and guidance I received from director Janet Galván – all before I was an official music major. Her support continued even beyond my time at IC, but to have it during that first year really spoke to how much she cared about her students.
The thing is, she wasn’t the only faculty member like that. I could always drop by a professor’s office and say, “I’m having a hard time with this, please help me brainstorm.”
Through Janet’s summer conducting workshops, I became familiar with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. A year after I graduated IC, I found out they were looking for conductors. In fact, it was during one of those workshops that I approached YPC’s artistic director and said, “Hey, I’m interested in conducting for you.”
Now I’m the one with the baton, and I get to share the artistic experiences I always sought with the next generation of young vocalists, and inspire them to find their own paths.
>> More on this story: Women's Chorale
Five months after graduating from Ithaca, Tom Healy was working with the search and rescue team in California’s Yosemite National Park when he got a call that a woman had fallen and fractured her leg on Half Dome, one of Yosemite’s iconic peaks.
When Tom and his team partner reached the woman, they knew it wouldn’t be an ordinary rescue. “She needed to be medevaced off the top,” he recalls. “And a storm was coming in, and we were in a very bad place.”
An avid hiker and rock climber, Tom chose Ithaca because it offered a major—outdoor adventure leadership—that could prepare him for situations like this, blending theory with wilderness immersion so that he could put classroom learning into practice.
“You learn that the consequences of your decisions are very important,” he says. “It definitely gives you more tools in your bag for life.”
The storm hit so close that Tom’s partner felt electric shocks through the metal frame of his backpack, and another hiker’s hair stood on end. “What I learned in my classes at Ithaca is to remain calm,” Tom says. “You have to have the coolest head in the group.”
As the weather grew increasingly violent, Tom helped the woman safely aboard the rescue helicopter and then led the other hikers to safety as lightning struck around them. “If we hadn’t gone up there and gotten her off the mountain,” he says, “she definitely would have died.”
Tom got a letter from the National Park Service commending him on his bravery and a heartfelt thank-you from the woman whose life he saved. “The letter of thanks I received from the injured hiker was worth all the effort,” he says.
Now Tom is studying in an advanced paramedics program so that he can return to Yosemite as a full-time employee. “Ithaca College made me ready to adapt to any situation.”
>> More on this story: "Alum's Bravery Earns Notice" - Fuse
How do you bring accounting and finance concepts to life? Try balancing and allocating a real $400,000 budget, for starters. When Brian Keefe became vice president of finance for the Student Government Association in his sophomore year, he did just that, drawing on what he was learning in his classes to make big—and much needed—changes.
“I ended up reworking the entire allocation system and writing a 34-page handbook,” he says. “Sharing the new policies and regulations with IC’s student organizations helped them come up with better budget proposals and better prepared the budget committee itself to allocate money more consistently.”
As a senior, Brian found another golden opportunity to combine his love of number crunching with his passion for running.
“I wandered into the Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company looking for a run-of-the-mill sales position. But after reviewing my résumé, IC alum Ian Golden [’99] made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: organizing the company’s finances, making inventory projections, talking with professional accountants, and analyzing account ledgers were all part of the job description. It was really powerful to go into the classroom and then take that knowledge back to the running store and apply it to a real company,” he says.
After graduation Brian took some time to pursue his dream of biking across the U.S. But thanks to his Ithaca experiences and a supportive alumni network, his accounting career is already off and running.
>> More on this story: "Running the Numbers" - Fuse
What would compel a 40-something owner of an already successful small business to return to school for an M.B.A. at Ithaca College?
Heather Lane, owner of Purity Ice Cream—a well-known and loved institution in Ithaca and the central New York area—had her reasons: “I had plateaued at Purity. I couldn’t beat my best day’s sales,” she says.
Heather always urged IC students on her staff to finish their degrees but was embarrassed she never finished her own. After taking the final classes needed to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology with the University at Buffalo, she was inspired to scoop up an M.B.A. at Ithaca to boost her business.
“I didn’t understand how transferable the theoretical knowledge was until I entered the program, and then it just became this great game: what can I change next at Purity?”
Heather made operational adjustments, which included changing the way customers move through her store and the location of the cash registers. She also modified the prices of certain products.
Then she tackled the human resources side of the business and created a series of videos so that staffers could understand the nuances of making a great sundae or a smooth milkshake, and even how to mop the floor correctly.
Changes like these and others are what helped Heather eventually beat her best day's sales by 40 percent. She credits that growth to her education at IC.
“The M.B.A. program really pushed me to analyze my operation, make sense of it, and do it better,” Heather says.
>> More on this story: "Ice Cream Social" - The Ithacan
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
For Nancy Patterson, baseball is more about pulled hamstrings and sore muscles than RBIs and ERAs. Working with the Inland Empire 66ers, a former minor league affiliate of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, turned out to be the perfect first step to her dream job.
The path to the Inland Empire team ran straight through Ithaca, where Nancy earned her bachelor’s degree in clinical exercise science and athletic training in 2006 and a master’s in exercise and sport sciences two years later. Ithaca College prepared her well, she says, for the challenge of pro sports: “The first time being on your own with a team can be nerve-wracking. But between the classes at Ithaca and our on-field experience, I felt very well prepared.”
That on-field experience included working with several Ithaca sports teams and internships with minor league affiliates of the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox.
“When I first graduated, I felt like I was much more prepared and experienced than recent grads from other programs,” Patterson says. “I attribute this to the way IC’s program is put together and the outstanding professors who put in the extra time and effort to help the students succeed.”
And succeed she has. After joining the Inland Empire 66ers team as its athletic trainer in the winter of 2009, Nancy got promoted to the AA Chattanooga Lookouts. Then the call from the big leagues came: she’s now assistant athletic trainer for the L.A. Dodgers.
“Going to Ithaca is what allowed me to go into baseball,” Nancy says. “Everyone has heard of Ithaca’s athletic training program.”
>> More on this story: Office of Experiential Learning
Alex Canovas and his friends at Ithaca College agree: there’s something above and beyond about the School of Music.
“One of the top things we say is how we out-do the competition, in terms of performance and professionalism,” Alex says. “Our résumés, our headshots, our collegiality are at a totally different level than students we see from other schools.”
The talented tenor plunged right in freshman year when he was assigned two lead roles in the ensembles for two different operas being performed that year.
“Jumping into a real-world situation at 18 years old was kind of scary,” he remarks. “At the end of the day though, it was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.”
Countless more performances followed, including the lead role in the opera L’Orfeo, and performances with the Ithaca College Choir in Philadelphia and at the Strathmore Center for Music (home to the National Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra) outside Washington, D.C.
Now the IC senior has graduate school in his sights. And with graduate-level music programs often wanting applicants to have a certain amount of professional experience behind them, Alex is confident Ithaca College has provided just that.
“The level of experience we have as students is definitely of a professional caliber,” he says.
Editor's Note: In August 2012, Alex began an exciting position as a coordinator for OPERA America's brand new National Opera Center, located in Manhattan. The Center is the first specially designed facility for the opera industry. It will feature a double-height audition hall with excellent acoustics, recording equipment, and other facilities for industry business. For more information, visit www.operaamerica.org.
How do you top off four years at Ithaca College crammed with classes and a wide range of extracurricular activities? If you’re Kaitlin Kohberger, you bike the entire width of the country to help build homes for the disadvantaged.
Kaitlin spent her summer after graduating from IC riding and working with Bike and Build, a nonprofit business that organizes groups to ride across the country to raise money and awareness for affordable housing, and pitch in on build sites.
“During my time at IC, my professors and fellow students really encouraged me to push for the change I wish to see in the world,” Kaitlin says. “As an able-bodied young person, I feel the responsibility to push for affordable housing—and to ride my bike from Providence to Seattle to raise money and awareness for the cause.”
There wasn’t much time to rest after her transcontinental journey, though. This fall she’s in Austria as a Fulbright scholar to teach English and American studies.
All of this echoes the way Kaitlin immersed herself while attending Ithaca College. As she was pursuing her degree in psychology, she found time to study anthropology in Hawaii, co-found the Gaelic Arts Society, teach spin classes at the Fitness Center, serve as an orientation leader, and mentor new students. And that’s nowhere near the full list.
“I started seeking leadership opportunities on campus as soon as I could,” Kaitlin says. “I found myself in a community of peers that were all heavily involved and leadership-focused.”
>> More on this story: Leadership Development
As a singer, student government representative, and integrated marketing communications major at Ithaca College, Jimmy Knowles knows how to make voices heard.
Freshman year, Jimmy joined Ithacappella, IC’s renowned all-male a cappella group, and was elected to the student government. When faculty steered him into Ithaca’s IMC program, “Something just clicked, and all these different parts of my life came together,” he says.
Jimmy became a lead vocalist and promoter for Ithacappella. Freshman year, he performed a solo at Lincoln Center when the group made it to an international collegiate a cappella competition. The following year, his marketing efforts helped bring 1,200 people to the group’s first concert of the year. “I remember hitting the stage and thinking, ‘I did this. I got these people here.’ That was when I realized what I’m doing is really big,” he says.
That kind of real-world experience helped him snag one of eight internships at New York City–based Serino/Coyne, a top ad agency specializing in Broadway promotions. “They fired questions at me about the work we’d be doing, and I was like, ‘Okay, I did this two months ago in class. I got this,’” he says.
As a junior, Jimmy spearheaded Ithacappella’s involvement in the Trevor Project, which works to prevent suicide among gay youth. The group’s rendition of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” sung with local school kids to benefit the project, went viral on the Internet and drew the attention of MTV, Ellen DeGeneres, Perez Hilton, and others.
Once a senior, Jimmy served as president of both Ithacappella and the senior class. He relished the creativity and collaboration of the Ithaca College community.
“The professors and administrators here really want you to succeed. I have never been told that I can’t do something. It’s always, ‘Let’s find a way to make this work.’ Ithaca College has taught me to believe in myself.”
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