Learning from world-class opera singers in Germany, guiding VIPs through the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, conquering the highest mountains in the U.S. These are some of the interesting, impressive and incredible ways Ithaca College students spent their summer vacation.
Performing Mozart in Germany
Vocal performance major Julia Gershkoff ’18 spent one month of her summer break honing her craft with the help of talented professional musical theatre and opera artists in Kiefersfelden, Germany, where she attended the International Performance Arts Institute.
While attending the institute, Gershkoff took a masterclass and personal voice lessons with opera singer Barbara Daniels. The famed soprano told Gershkoff that her voice gave her chills and touched her heart.
Gershkoff also took part in several performances. One in particular piqued her interest: a scene from Mozart’s opera, “Cosi Fan Tutte.” Gershkoff was cast as a soubrette, a role that involves a lot of acting and functions as Mozart’s voice in the opera. She enjoyed it so much that she decided that she’d like to pursue soubrette roles professionally.
“Maybe the soubrette’s songs are not the most virtuosic or beautiful, but they have the most storytelling,” said Gershkoff. “It made me fall even more in love with opera.”
Witnessing Olympic History
While most Ithaca College students were glued to their TVs watching the world’s best athletes compete at the Rio Summer Olympics, 13 of their classmates were helping broadcast the Games for NBC.
Amanda Lai ’17, an integrated marketing communications major, was in Brazil for the Olympics, where she served as a hospitality guide, helping NBC executives and their VIP guests navigate Rio to visit landmarks and attend some of the most popular Olympic events.
“I was basically the information and tour guide for over 900 executives for over four weeks of the Olympics,” said Lai.
As a guide, Lai visited places like Sugarloaf Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer. She was also present for classic Olympic moments like the U.S. women’s gymnastics team’s historic, gold-medal-winning performance.
The 50 Peaks Project
Plenty of Ithaca College students enjoy hiking, but Josh Brooks ’19 takes it to a whole other level. At the end of the spring 2016 semester, the outdoor adventure leadership major took to the road and spent two months travelling across the country, sleeping in his car and climbing some of the toughest peaks in the lower 48 states.
Brooks is attempting to become the youngest person ever to solo climb (alone and unaided) the highest point in every state in the U.S. He summited 11 peaks this summer, including Oregon’s Mount Hood and Colorado’s Mount Elbert. He also climbed Mount Rainier with a group, and plans to make a solo attempt next year.
For Brooks, who hopes to become a professional climber and guide after graduating from Ithaca College, the 50 Peaks Project is about self-reliance, overcoming obstacles and proving himself.
“Solo climbing is so much harder because you’re not relying on other people,” said Brooks. “You’re out there in really dangerous and extreme environments where every decision you make is all on you. That’s what motivates me to do it. It’s a challenge.”
Brooks has finished 28 peaks so far, and hopes to complete the lower 48 states by August 2017.