Diving into summer classes
While summer is often considered a time to kick back and relax, many Bradley students hit the books. Bradley offers summer classes that take students on study abroad and expedition classes to other cities and countries; special topics classes, which offer new perspectives; and of course, required classes.
Dr. Ron Koperski, associate professor of communication, took eight students to Chicago for his class, COM 494 Corporate and Agency Seminar. “The primary purpose is to introduce students to the broad range of opportunities in the communications profession,” Koperski says. They met with executives, many of whom were alumni, at public relations agencies, advertising agencies, a radio station, a TV station, not-for-profit agencies, a museum, a media services company, a corporation, a professional trade association, and a specialty promotions company.
Dan Richman ’89, the local sales manager for WSCR 670 AM (The Score) talked about his work at one of the top sports talk stations in the city. During a one-day trip to Oak Brook, students met with Jerry Cizek III ’70, president and general manager of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. Each year, this organization stages the prestigious Chicago Auto Show. That afternoon in a session at the corporate offices of Ace Hardware, four two-person student teams each made 15-minute presentations to Ace executives. Following the format of the television show The Apprentice, one team was “hired” for a January 2006 three-week internship at corporate headquarters. Bryan Tapella ’04, who took this seminar two years ago and now is associate public relations specialist for Ace Hardware, was a participant in the session.
Sara McElmurry ’02, communications director, and Melissa Lach ’97, senior corporate events director, both of the American Heart Association, led a simulation of a press conference on the smoking ban in Chicago. Students also met with Kevin Gallagher ’79, vice president and director, and Chris Hecht ’01, media supervisor, for Starcom Worldwide, a media services company. The company recently signed a $1 billion contract with General Motors to be responsible for television advertising buying decisions.
In addition to meeting with executives, students kept extensive daily logs and after returning, wrote research papers. Sabina Nyckowski ’05, one of the student participants, says, “This experience exemplified why I chose Bradley University. The educational and professional experience cannot be replicated.”
Koperski says, “I think it’s important for students to get a firsthand, out-of-the-classroom view of how the business world operates. One of the purposes of the class is to introduce students to internship and post-graduation employment opportunities in areas other than just agencies.”
Bradley students had an insider’s view of owning a franchise when Dr. Fred Fry, professor of business administration, and Dr. Donna Hill, professor of marketing, offered BMA 459 Topics in Management/MTG 400 Topics in Marketing. Students met Chuck Scott, U.S. vice-president of franchise relations at McDonald’s and Jimmy John Liautaud, founder of the popular sandwich restaurant chain that bears his name, along with local franchise owners and others who have built a career in the franchise business.
The idea for a special topics course in franchises blossomed last fall when Fry attended the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Conference and heard Liautaud speak. Craig Culver, founder of another popular restaurant that now has many franchises, spoke at a Bradley entrepreneurs’ meeting. “Craig Culver, whom I had met before, was the impetus. I thought he might come for a week and talk to the students every day. Then, we had the idea of having several franchises represented. I ran into Chuck Scott from McDonald’s, whose daughter goes to Bradley, and it took off from there.”
“We’ve talked about franchises a lot in other classes when discussing franchise marketing, but never anything in this detail,” says Hill. “In this class, we discuss what it takes to be a good franchise.”
Students divided into groups, and each group researched a franchise opportunity. They looked at strengths and weaknesses, competition, franchisor-franchisee dynamics such as fees, and market considerations such as location and size of the business.
Kyle Funfsinn ‘06, Thom Pritchard ‘06, and Mike Procaccio ‘06, all entrepreneurship majors, were among the students enrolled. Procaccio says, “This was like a seminar. We heard about a lot of franchises in a short amount of time.”
The course was especially relevant for Procaccio, who has worked at Jimmy John’s during his years at Bradley and is exploring the possibility of owning a Jimmy John’s franchise after graduation.
Cultures and counseling
Summer classes also offer an opportunity to complete required courses, such as ELH 586 Counseling Diverse Populations, required in the counseling curriculum. Dr. Christopher Rybak, associate professor of education, says the course is designed to allow students to “better understand clients in the clients’ own terms rather than only from the counselor’s perspective.”
Students’ primary assignment was to interview someone different from themselves in some significant way, such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Pairs met for at least five hours to establish a certain level of comfort and rapport. Rybak says, “What happens for a lot of students is it opens a natural curiosity. They learn to get to know somebody on an individual basis instead of a collection of stereotypes.”
In addition to the interviews, Rybak invited guest speakers from various backgrounds to speak to the students. Swami Dharmakeerti of Bangalore, India, who was in Peoria for a visit, discussed the Asian-Indian culture; Carol Lakota Eastin of Seven Circles Heritage Center in Edwards represented the American-Indian community; and Shirley McQuirter MA ’95, weekend college coordinator at Illinois Central College, discussed the African-American experience.
Rybak concludes, “Saying ‘I know what it’s like for you’ doesn’t carry a lot of weight. We want to validate clients’ experiences in life and find a way to build a framework that helps deal with whatever issues they’re facing in their lives. It’s a real challenge, but it’s what we have to do as counselors. One size doesn’t fit all.”
Below, at right, Jimmy John Liautaud, owner of Jimmy John’s sandwich shop franchises, speaks to business and marketing students enrolled in a summer special topics course on franchise ownership.
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