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Campus Life and Leadership
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.”
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.”
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
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
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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
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
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
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.”
More on this story: Ithacappella