Five academic areas visited the Washington, D.C., and New York Dec. 31-Jan. 9 for a 10-day course counting for one to three credit hours. Students toured the Capitol, NBC Studios and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and visited with alumni.
This was the first year for the English department to participate, joining the departments of communication, theatre, and family and consumer sciences and the Paul R. Carter College of Business Administration that had gone in previous years. English students visited a former writer for The New Yorker and met with Connor McNabb (’10) for a round table discussion. Dr. Heath Carpenter, professor of English, attended the trip and said the experiences succeeded in forming connections between students and alumni as well as showing students possible career opportunities.
“We wanted our students to benefit from a nontraditional, interactive experience in two of the world’s most interesting cities,” Carpenter said. “It allowed them to engage their studies in a more immediate sense, get a sense of the variety of career choices available to them, and expand the notion of what an English major or minor can offer them.”
Both the English and communications departments met with Nick Michael (’10) at NPR and toured the Newseum. Students were also given the opportunity to visit museums, landmarks or memorials of their choice.
“I think I fell in love with my major all over again. The trip reinforced why I do what I do and why I love communications so much,” senior public relations major Amanda Floyd said. “The reason I love communications is because I feel like get to have a little glimpse into the life of someone else. I get to walk in someone else’s shoes for a little while.”
Assistant Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences Rebecca Boaz led fashion merchandising students through Mood Fabrics, Fifth Avenue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The students were hosted by Farron Martin (’09), and they met with a bridal designer for Sarah Seven. Both fashion merchandising and theatre students toured the New Amsterdam Theatre where they were able to try on costumes from several shows.
“New York is one of the fashion capitals of the world, and I think that it is important for the students to see that,” Boaz said. “I think it is important to see these things in person so they can get a better understanding rather than just what I am teaching them from a textbook, PowerPoint or photo.”
Dr. Glen Metheny, associate professor of business, said the trip helped students to feel more comfortable about entering jobs in large cities. Business students toured Wall Street and Madison Square Garden and met with Thad Hill (’95), executive director of Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch.
“Our purpose was to expose our students to businesses, alumni, and individuals in D.C. and New York who went to Harding and who live and work in a big city,” Metheny said. “It gives the students confidence to say, ‘I can do this if I want to do this,’ and that is exciting from a teacher’s perspective.”
Amy Sewell (’88), TV spokesperson and founder of ShopwithStyle.com, organized a panel for students consisting of members of the Manhattan Church of Christ. In addition to gaining confidence to navigate public transportation and crowded streets, students from each department discussed life in New York from a Christian perspective as panel members talked about how important it is to have more Christians in big cities and to get plugged into a church. Several of the church members who spoke to the students exchanged businesses cards, and some viewed students’ portfolios and offered professional advice.
“I think a lot of times we feel unqualified because we come from a small college in the middle of rural Arkansas, but they told us we were qualified for any job anywhere,” Floyd said. “It was encouraging to hear ‘don’t underestimate yourself, go for these big jobs.’ Now I really want to go after bigger internships and entry-level jobs that I thought I would never get.”