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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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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.”
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.
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
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
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.”
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.”
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
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
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
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