From getting up close and personal with a California condor to discussing market research on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, more than 100 Monmouth College students spent their Spring Break on academic, performance or service trips.
Last December, senior Bryan Jackson of Princeton, junior Wendy Lin of Morton and sophomore Alicia Yeakey of Raritan began preparing for a major presentation in London’s Strand Palace Hotel. Business Advantage, a London-based market research company with a client list that includes such top international tech companies as Hewlett-Packard and Intel, gave MC students a chance to research their competitors and make recommendations about their current Web site.
The students, who participated in weekly teleconference meetings with a market research team in London, were assigned to research and prepare an hour-long presentation for Business Advantage CEO Chris Turner and Nicola Mansfield, the company’s director of research.
Lin said the opportunity was one that not many students get to experience.
“I couldn’t even think of relaxing during Spring Break,” she recalled. “I just kept thinking about how I was going to present in front of a CEO. I was so nervous!”
As part of her presentation, Lin had to provide recommendations about how the company could gain an advantage on its competitors. One of her recommendations was to reduce the amount of content on the company’s Web site.
“We explained to them that the content on their site was great for their clients to know, but they had a lot of public information that competitors could easily copy,” said Lin. “I could tell Mr. Turner appreciated our input, and his assistant mentioned how she had also previously voiced the same recommendation we had made.”
The students’ experience was capped off by a steak dinner with Turner, Mansfield and MC vice president Don Capener, who helped create the internship. After the dinner, business cards were exchanged and the students were offered summer internships with Business Advantage.
Although the interns’ presentation for Turner was the focus of their trip, they were also able to participate in activities with the other 19 international business students who made the trip to England and Spain. Highlights included visiting Damm Brewery (Spain’s largest beer-making company) and the Torres Winery, as well as seeing La Familia Sagrada Cathedral.
“My favorite part of the trip was touring Las Ramblas walkway in Barcelona,” said Lin. “It was a long street full of shops, stands, street performers and people in various crazy costumes like Edward Scissorhands. The market there was also amazing. I had never seen anything close to something like it. It was a great new experience.”
Lin’s group wasn’t the only one from Monmouth in Europe during Spring Break. Led by theatre faculty members Bill Wallace and Janeve West, 14 students traveled to Scotland, where they attended several theatre productions, toured theatres and, according to West, took in “some of the long history of the arts in Scotland.”
Another Monmouth group headed the opposite direction, visiting the American Southwest to study its animal and plant life.
“I think the trip went extremely well,” said biology professor Ken Cramer. “We had a great group of students. They were very cooperative, adventurous and willing to adapt to changes in the schedule that were forced by weather.”
Cramer said the Sonoran desert was “strikingly green,” due to a wet winter, which was still present during the trip.
“Unfortunately, we had a day where we experienced the wet and cold, but we were rewarded with a beautiful double rainbow in the afternoon,” he said. “The students especially enjoyed the trip to the Sonoran Desert Living Museum, which is basically an outdoor zoo of Sonoran desert animals.”
On a trip to the Grand Canyon, backcountry rangers discouraged the Monmouth contingent from doing an overnight hike, so short day hikes were taken instead.
“The students were rewarded by seeing an endangered California condor – with a wingspan of nearly 10 feet – soaring over the canyon,” said Cramer. “They also got to see fossilized lizard tracks in 280 million-year-old sandstone sediments right by the trail.”
Nearly 40 students headed to the American Southeast – specifically, Florida – as part of the Monmouth College Chorale’s annual Spring Break tour, and director Tim Pahel was pleased with the trip.
“We performed four concerts for really good audiences and made connections with Monmouth alumni who went out of their way to ensure that we were well taken care of,” said Pahel. “The Chorale got better in each performance and experienced substantial musical growth because of the trip. They bonded, made new friends and are definitely closer as a group now.”
Finally, two groups of MC students participated in Alternative Spring Break, a service initiative. One contingent made its way to Nashville, Tenn., while the other students stayed in Monmouth.
“We had a very diverse group of people who were able to come together and create a tremendously positive attitude for the entire trip,” said sophomore Craig Maher of Lockport, Ind., who traveled to Nashville. “This attitude helped us to do a number of activities including working with the elderly and with immigrant children, organizing a food pantry and conducting a river clean-up. A lot was accomplished, a lot was learned, and many people became good friends as an outcome of the trip.”
A wide-ranging week of service was also experienced by the Monmouth group, according to junior Alicia Phillips of Stronghurst.
“We completed many projects, including painting the horse arena and cleaning the horse stalls at Rainbow Riders; painting the food pantry and bathrooms at Jamieson Community Center; painting the lower level of the 1st Street Armoury; and sorting items for the Warren County Museum.”