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New Beginning: Elon in New York City provides opportunities, life lessons to students

The revitalized Elon in New York City program is just a few days old, but already students and faculty are energized by the opportunities that have been presented to them and by the potential of the nine-week course.

Eighteen students arrived in New York June 5 to begin a summer journey that will allow them to live, intern and learn in the Big Apple. They’ll take a four-credit course called “The Streets of New York City” that will meet weekly on Mondays and will teach them about the history and culture of the city. They’ll complete their internships throughout the city Tuesday through Friday.

Already, students have taken bus and boat tours of Manhattan, visited Central Park and engaged in several other experiences on their own. They’ll also visit Ellis Island, attend two plays, where they’ll converse with backstage personnel, meet young professionals at public relations and advertising agencies, attend a New York Yankees game and do much more.

Students and the program’s instructors, Lynne Bisko (nonprint librarian), Dan Haygood (assistant professor of Communications) and Bill Webb (assistant professor of performing arts), met four times in April to discuss their expectations of the students and the program. It was then, the instructors agreed, that they noticed they had an energetic and willing group of students.

“We spent four weeks together in April, and they all seemed really interested and motivated to learn about the city and experience it and get as much out of it as possible,” Bisko said. “I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be great experience for everybody.”

Adding to that experience will be the mentoring available to students from Bisko, Haygood and Webb, who will each serve as instructors during different weeks of the program, and from Elon alumni. Every student has been paired with his or her own Elon alum, who will serve as a counselor for the duration of the summer. Both of those features of the program add a unique dimension to the students’ learning experience, junior Journalism major Meaghan Carey said.

“I really like how there’s a balance between independence and mentoring,” said Carey, who’s interning at Fox Sports en Espanol. “Every week you’re getting a new perspective. You’re learning things constantly.

“We go out and see these things for ourselves, and yet we get to explore. I really like how you’re learning with a teacher and then you’re learning by yourself. There’s room to breathe.”

Haygood said he thinks students will benefit greatly from interacting with young people fresh out of college, who were able to come to New York and begin successful careers.

“They’re going to see young people in the advertising and public relations fields and in the theater who are almost as young as they are and who have gone up to New York and succeeded in a big way,” he said. “I think that’s going to be really helpful and enlightening to these students to say, ‘Hey, I can go up to New York and do the same thing. It’s not such an intimidating place.’”

Ben Donnelly (left), Katie Leggett (center) and Nolan Elingburg (right) chat before beginning their boat tour around Manhattan.

Jacquelyn DiNick, a senior Broadcast Journalism major, had already secured an internship with the CBS institution “60 Minutes,” so she was already planning on interning in New York this summer. But she saw the Elon in NYC program as a fantastic way to complement her internship experience.

“I took Elon in New York as a supplement to my ‘60 Minutes’ internship,” she said. “I knew I wanted to have an internship in New York long before this program existed. But by doing this, I’m really immersing myself in the history of New York City. I’m getting a sense of the big picture.”

And the big picture is how everyone involved in the program is viewing the more than two month opportunity. Students said complete immersion in the culture and bustle of the city will give them a clearer idea of whether New York is where they want to begin their careers. Instructors agreed, adding that the experience should help the students become better rounded, developed students.

“They’ve been given an opportunity to live, work and learn in one of them most exciting, energized cities in the world,” Webb said. “And what they’re going to get from that is a significant dose of maturity, responsibility and experiential learning.”

Students in the Elon in New York City program pose outside the New School, where they'll live during the summer.
Colin Donohue,
6/9/2010 4:41 PM