It’s safe to say that no one could have anticipated the challenges that Ithaca College’s Class of 2020 would face in the final semester of their senior year. Despite completing their studies in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, members of the Class of 2020 demonstrated their talents and dedication to distinguish both themselves and the IC community. Here are just a few standouts:
As showcased in a splashy New Yorker feature, Department of Theatre Arts student Dharon Jones was cast in the Broadway revival of “West Side Story” as Action, a member of the “Jets” street gang. It was later announced that Jones would take on the more substantial role of Riff, after his cast mate suffered an injury. As a junior, Jones appeared in IC’s site-specific production of “Little Shop of Horrors” at Bool’s Flower Shop and in the ensemble of the college’s production of "Ragtime." Jones also appeared in the series finale of the Netflix series, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
Each winter, School of Music students have the opportunity to compete by preparing and performing a concerto or major work for a panel of faculty judges through the Ithaca College Concerto Competition. In her sophomore year, saxophonist Sara Mercurio was selected as a winner after a rigorous selection process, and performed in Ford Hall with the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra. Double majoring in music and psychology, Mercurio completed her studies early to graduate in December 2019, but planned to attend the spring 2020 commencement ceremony. She was recently accepted into a master’s program in musicology at Northwestern University, and plans to pursue a career that allows her to provide support for people in need and healing through the redemptive qualities of music.
Exercise science student Pearl Outlaw is no stranger to overcoming adversity. Outlaw, who has retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder of the eyes that causes vision loss, competes in para-rowing, which is open to rowers with disabilities who meet certain criteria. With her partner, Josh Boissoneau, Outlaw came in fifth place at the 2018 World Rowing Championships. The pair channeled their disappointment into motivation to train harder for the 2019 championships, with the pair ending up on the medal stand for a third-place finish behind Russia and Austria.
It was “all hands on deck” for the IC community leading up to the 2019 Cortaca Jug, which took place at MetLife Stadium and shattered the attendance record for a Division III football game. As director of ticket sales, sport management student Marco Fontana led 14 other School of Business students on the sales team, coordinating social media promotion and the sale of tickets. Fontana, who had previously completed a sales team internship with the New York Mets, helped lead the team to not only break the existing ticket sales record, but also receive recognition from The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which named the student-led ticket sales effort one of its 25 “innovations that inspire.”
Students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning from day one, but that isn’t always the case when it comes to first jobs and internships. For integrated marketing communications student Kristin Butler, however, her internship with Boston-based Armored Things saw her promoted during her first week at the startup — as a sophomore. A child of Park School alumni, Butler excelled, taking on all marketing responsibilities for the company throughout her career at IC while picking up even more marketing clients, including a drone-focused photography-videography company.