Record number of students participating in Elon in LA

The summer program in Los Angeles, featuring engaged classes and internship opportunities, is setting new marks for participation and success.  

Sixty students are studying and working in Los Angeles this summer in Elon’s popular Elon in LA program. The nine-week Study USA program is now in its eighth year of operation under the direction of Assistant Professor J. McMerty of the School of Communications. The program is open to all majors, allowing students to take classes and do internships in the world’s entertainment capital.

In addition to Los Angeles, Elon operates centers in New York City and Washington, D.C. that offer students opportunities to pursue internships in their area of professional interest, earn academic credit and explore the global reaches of these vibrant, diverse urban centers.

Four faculty members are working with students in Los Angeles this summer on classes in entertainment production, entertainment public relations, acting and the camera, and dancing and the camera. Students take classes one day per week and complete extensive creative projects. They also complete internships with companies and organizations across the Los Angeles metro area.

Matt Lee, a rising senior majoring in media arts and entertainment, is a production intern for ESPN’s “SportsNation,” a daily variety show that is broadcast on ESPN2. He works as part of a 30-member team, assisting with researching story ideas, editing video, working on social media and handling studio production duties.

“I’m really fortunate to have this opportunity,” Lee says. “It’s hands-on experience – I’m doing real work and seeing the results on the air.”

Caroline Thayer, a rising junior majoring in journalism and minoring in political science, is interning with Young Hollywood, an innovative entertainment network that produces premium celebrity and lifestyle programming for online distribution. Working in a studio in Beverly Hills, Thayer produces social media content and website articles, conducts research and interviews and assists with program production.

“I’ve learned an immense amount in just a month of work,” Thayer says. “I’ve gained an appreciation of all forms of journalism. I’ve also grown to appreciate the strong work ethic of the people in this small company.”

Thayer says she has seen much of the city in her drives from Burbank to Beverly Hills and that has helped her develop a sense of independence. “I’m starting to feel like a native,” Thayer says.

In downtown Los Angeles near the Staples Center, three Elon students are interning at the Vocal Corner Store, an artist development and consulting company owned by alumnus Nicholas Cooper ’94. Rising juniors Courtney Ittner and Christopher Edwards II and rising senior Zach Smith and serving in a variety of roles in the company, editing video, working on marketing and public relations and handling other office duties.

Students in the program were fully involved across the city on a typical Monday in July. In a classroom on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, one group of students worked with faculty member Brad Lemack, a veteran talent manager and entertainment publicist, on promotional materials for student-produced short films. In another classroom, program director J. McMerty was critiquing first drafts of the video productions. Down the hall, other students were working at video editing stations to refine their work. Meantime, a group of ten dance students were participating in an intense session at the Evolution Dance Studios in North Hollywood with Elon dance faculty member Jen Guy Metcalf and professional dancer Chris Stanley of the Helios Dance Theater.   

Elon in LA students will complete a total of about 70 internships during the summer. A key component of the experience is the chance to interact with the large number of Elon alumni who are building careers on the West Coast. The alumni share advice with students about getting started in the entertainment business during “alumni wisdom sessions.” In addition, the students get a chance to explore the city, taking studio tours, attending a Dodgers baseball game, taking a Marina del Rey harbor cruise and taking part in other regularly scheduled group activities.

In addition to the six-credit summer Elon in LA program, Elon offers a full-time spring semester study program that allows students to earn a total of 18 credits. For more on the program, access this website:  



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