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Buffalo and Beyond

Students Explore a World of Opportunity

732 Clemens Hall is a portal through which UB students can step into the real world of research, employment, travel and service. With its cozy chairs, conference table, large touchscreen monitors for presentations and big windows that let in plenty of light, the new Experiential Learning Center in the College of Arts and Sciences provides everything students need to discover and survey the array of exciting opportunities available in the form of Experiential Learning.

Caitlin Hoekstra, assistant director of experiential learning, describes this type of learning as the application of classroom knowledge in a practical context. “Students benefit from hands-on work in the community or overseas. Hands-on work gives students another way to develop critical thinking skills, communication and problem-solving skills—many of the important skills they will need to succeed after graduation.”

Opportunities are varied: Study abroad—either for a short, faculty-led tour or an entire year—introduces curious students to unfamiliar cultures while building empathy and strengthening foreign language skills. Research—which can be conducted on campus or at a number of global locations—includes one-on-one faculty mentorship, even for students just beginning their freshman year. Service learning—open to a variety of majors—places UB students in local elementary, middle and high schools where they support literacy programs or serve as ESL tutors. And internships—key to conquering the ever-shifting job market—match students with prospective employers who regularly offer full-time positions upon graduation.

“UB has opportunities for students at all levels and in all majors, and multiple experiences are encouraged,” Hoekstra says. “Students should start thinking about experiential options early in their time at UB so they can take full advantage of what is available.”

Not only does Experiential Learning enhance resumes, but professors report that scholars who’ve participated in this program are more involved with their own learning, and draw connections between what they do at UB to the problems they will solve in their future careers. This, Hoekstra explains, is the kind of engagement employers and graduate institutions look for when scrutinizing a mile-long list of applicants. “Lots of students will graduate college with the same grades, having attended the same classes and developing similar abilities. Experiential Learning is the ‘something extra’ that proves initiative and the courage to go for what you want.”

The Experiential Learning Center, open to any College of Arts and Sciences student, is the springboard for inquiry in to opportunities. From here, every door opens.


Students in Action

Jacob Schupbach, a dual major in studio art and business administration, a College Ambassador and recipient of a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, entered UB as a freshman intent on a career as a tattoo artist. He channeled his creative skills into an independent study in graphic design, (a UB 101 peer mentorship), which led to a position as an HBO campus agent and eventually resulted in an internship in Santa Monica, Calif. with the groundbreaking entertainment service, Hulu.

Jacob shares highlights of his internship


“On day six I took over the Hulu Snapchat account for a day and my task was to attend a Mindy Kaling fashion show, which was related to the Fox Television comedy, The Mindy Project. I think that being flexible and adaptable is the key, as well as being prepared. You really start to see how you will use what you’re learning.”

Photo: Jacob Shupbach with actress Mindy Kaling




Makenzie shares her experience

“My experience in Selma helped me discover what I am truly passionate about, while also giving back to a community that holds a special place in my heart. I completed a week long training in nonviolent conflict management and am certified to lead trainings with groups of students at UB. I will be able to use my certification to hold workshops on the principles of nonviolent conflict management in hopes of leaving a positive impact on my university community. The experiences that I had in Selma while working with the children there have inspired me to dedicate my life to serving others.”

Photo: Makenzie DePetrillo (back row on the right) with New Way Summer Institute participants



Written by: Elin Hawkinson


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