Two groups of first-year students finished out their initial year of college by heading off for a domestic travel experience right after commencement was completed. One group headed to New York City with Dr. Joe Lane (Political Science), and another group headed to Washington D.C. with Dr. Tracy Lauder (Mass Communications). The idea is to give students the opportunity to experience all that a large city has to offer while also giving them the chance to learn the ropes of maneuvering in a metropolitan location early in their college career. The hope is that this will embolden these young scholars to pursue additional travel opportunities both in and out of the country.
In both instances, the traveling students got to interact with very gracious alumni who were happy to welcome fellow E&Hers to their respective cities. The group going to Washington DC was especially treated to some outstanding opportunities due to an array of interesting job connections.
Mike Gillenwater (E&H ’82) is now serving as the Director for Preparedness Grants for FEMA. He arranged a tour of his office, shared information about grants available through FEMA, and introduced the students to other high-ranking FEMA officials including Elizabeth M. Harman, FEMA Assistant Administrator and Grants Program Directorate.
Art Scott (E&H ’07), previously serving in Senator Jim Webb’s office as Assistant to the Chief of Staff is now the Statewide Deputy Field Director for the Virginia Victory 2012 (Democratic Party of Virginia) campaign focusing on electing former Governor Tim Kaine to the United States Senate and electing democrats up and down the ticket. Art graciously helped Senator Webb’s office to arrange for our students to have a private tour of the Capitol building, complete with a ride on the underground tram that transports senators back and forth between sessions and meetings.
Robby Thomas-Garcia (E&H ’01) went to work for the State Department shortly after he graduated from E&H. He arranged for students to meet with Ambassador Janice Jacobs, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, and he also made arrangements for students to sit in on a press briefing.
Around mid-week, students gathered for dinner with alumni in downtown DC to chat about life, careers, and opportunities. Alumni present included (among others!) Becky Kurtz (E&H ’84) from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Kate Riesbeck (E&H ’07) from NPR, and Tommy Britt (E&H ’02) who established the film department at George Mason University. The students agreed that the chance to talk with alums from so many career paths was the highlight of the week. Chuck Alexander (E&H ’89), Senior Vice President with Burness Communications and member of the E&H Alumni Board of Directors, has been the point person on this event for the past three years and says he loves the opportunity to interact with students. “I think it’s safe to say that all of the alumni who attend this event are beyond impressed by the energy, curiosity and intelligence of Emory’s students. It’s a bright reminder of what a great place Emory & Henry College is and all it does to enrich the lives of these remarkable young people.”
The week was full of new experiences, new connections, and new notions about career paths and living. The class had studied the notion of what makes a city or town a good place to live, and spent time interviewing residents of Saltville, VA, as well as Washington DC. Throughout it all, students were game for the adventures. In fact, one first-year participant, Quia Hubbard, coined the phrase of the week when during a moment of uncertainty she said, “It’s all about the experience.”