Learning from Pros

Grad students meet commercial, policy leaders on New York, D.C. trip


VU grad students pose in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. last spring.

VU graduate students pose for a picture in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. during a trip to the East Coast last spring. Submitted photo


When digital media grad student Tatianah Green found herself face to face with Michael Elliott, deputy managing editor of TIME media, it was an inspiring moment to say the least.

“He talked about the future of media, which is related to what we are studying in my program,” Green recalled of the meeting.

Elliott was just one of several speakers a group of Valpo grad students had the opportunity to hear during a trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. last semester. The excursion, which lasted from Feb. 28 to March 10, functioned as a 3-credit, 600-level course for International Commerce and Policy students, but was open to all VU graduate scholars, such as Green.

“I always wanted to go to New York, and I had never been to D.C. either, so I thought it would be a great way to see the sights and learn something at the same time,” she said.

The focus of the trip was a series of presentations—about two each weekday—by members of the banking, law, media, marketing and nonprofit sectors. In addition to Elliott, other speakers included Peter Deutsch, CEO of WJ Deutsch & Sons, and Doris Benson, pro-bono volunteer for Community Markets for Conservation, a national government organization in Zambia.

The trip was a unique opportunity for students to hear top entrepreneurs and policy makers explain how they impact the world in their respective fields.

“I was able to get many new ideas and thoughts from the speakers who see things in different perspectives,” said International Commerce and Policy student Tongxin Jin. “This trip broadened my horizon and expanded my knowledge.”

Concordia College in suburban Bronxville, New York hosted the students during the first leg of their journey, providing easy access to Manhattan where they mixed business with pleasure by shopping and sightseeing.

“New York is a good place to go shopping and also has many world-famous spots for sightseeing,” Jin said.  “I will never forget the heavy wind when we were at the top of Empire State Building.”

In the nation’s capital, students visited museums and toured Capitol Hill when not listening to speakers.

The trip, which included many international students, also allowed the group to become closer and learn about cultures other than their own.

“I made some foreign friends, and I clearly felt we Chinese students in this trip were much closer,” said Jin, who hails from Zhejiang, China. “I also experienced American culture.”

“When you are living in a house together [during the trip], it’s a totally different experience than when you are in class with each other,” Green said.

Perhaps the greatest thing students took away from the adventure, though, is encouragement and examples of how to use their studies in the real world.

“It gave me inspiration … to pursue entrepreneurship and just keep pushing, because all of these speakers had to push to get to where they are,” Green said.

Tatianah's video is available to view on YouTube.

Written by Derek Smith