Students find opportunity across the globe during spring break programs

By Beth Hatcher

UNC Hussman students fanned out across the globe over spring break as they took part in immersive learning experiences offered by the school.

From a San Francisco career trek to Caribbean multimedia work to London networking — here’s what some of the school’s students were up to on spring break.


A trip across the pond

Students in Associate Professor Lucinda Austin’s “MEJO 447: Media in the U.K.” course took a trip across the Atlantic during spring break for a week of media site visits in London.

“Immersing in international media markets can help students to understand cultural differences and the dynamics of news and communication in a London and global context,” Austin said. “As London is renowned as a global center for international news, the London market provides a look at the international media and business landscape beyond the U.K. alone.”

Kyle Beaman ’24 has had his eye on the “Media in the U.K.” course ever since he first saw it in the course catalog two years ago. “I always wanted to study abroad, and I have been a fan of British culture and media since my early high school years, so this looked like a great fit,” said the Edenton, North Carolina, native who hopes to pursue a career in brand strategy. “I figured it would be a great way to find out how to get stationed in London during my future endeavors!”

One of Beaman’s favorite memories from the trip was viewing Tower Bridge from water level as the group rode a water taxi on the iconic River Thames.

Pictured below: At right, Hussman master's student Joba Ogun poses in London. At left, students on the London trip visit the Chelsea Football Club.  Photos courtesy of Ogun and Associate Professor Lucinda Austin.

Besides sightseeing, the students visited a host of media companies during the trip, including FleishmanHillard, The Guardian, Bloomberg News, APCO Worldwide, Real Chemistry, Netflix UK and CNN International.

For master’s student Joba Ogun, the trip was personal. Her family is from Nigeria, which is still a part of the British Commonwealth, so she was interested to witness British culture firsthand — and she also learned about key differences between British and American media markets.

“The differences I've noticed between America and British media markets all come down to culture,” Ogun said. “Culture affects how messages are sent, which words are used and how a specific idea is communicated. Truly knowing your target audience and what they value is crucial in media marketing.”

UNC Hussman’s Assistant Director of Global, Immersive and Professional Programs Hui Yang said that teaching students how to think globally was an important part of experiences like the spring break London trip.

“Thinking globally is very important and international markets are woven together — students need to be aware of that,” Yang said. “Even if they don’t end up working abroad, many of them will be working for companies that have an international footprint. The world, and work, are more connected than ever.”


San Francisco calling

The school’s Career Services team took students to San Francisco for a Career Trek over spring break, where they met with companies like FleishmanHillard, Uber and Google. The trip is one of several that the Career Services team runs throughout the year to cities like New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Charlotte.

“I wanted to go on the Career Trek to expose myself to a completely different environment from what I grew up in and am familiar with,” said Eleazar Yisrael ’24. “Having never been outside of North Carolina and Georgia, the culture of San Francisco and the surrounding cities were very different but in a good way. In addition, it was extremely valuable to engage with the companies that we visited.”

Assistant Director of Career Services Heather Stevenson said that the trip to San Francisco had a tech company focus and said the students really benefited from the trip’s networking opportunities.

“These trips outside the classroom allow students to really see what work environments are like, make contacts and get a better idea of what they want to do after graduation,” Stevenson said.

Pictured below: Students on the San Francisco trip visit Uber offices. Photo courtesy of  Assistant Director of Career Services Heather Stevenson.


¡Vamos a Puerto Rico!

Students in “MEJO 584: International Projects” traveled to Puerto Rico over spring break to produce a multimedia project.

“MEJO 584” is a global storytelling course that allows students to travel internationally to create a documentary each spring. Previous years have included trips to study climate change in Belize and issues facing the people of the Galápagos islands in South America.

This year's project follows the "Aftermath" project in 2018, which focused on recovery from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The title of this year's project is "Isla de Fuerza" (island of strength), which will report on Puerto Rico's continuing struggle to recover from the hurricanes. Issues explored in the project include the island’s power grid's ongoing vulnerability, crippling debt, depopulation, gentrification from foreign investors, and austerity measures imposed by the United States.

“I'm a big believer in immersive, experiential education. Journalism is a profession that has to be practiced out in the world, face-to-face with people of all backgrounds and cultures,” said Professor Patrick Davison, an instructor for the class. “Providing opportunities for students to do journalism in cultures and languages other than their own challenges them to think critically, spend time listening and understanding stories, and working through challenges. They often experience exponential growth in a short time through these classes.”

That was definitely the case for master’s student Florencia Loncán.

Pictured below: Students on the  trip work (and find some time to relax) in Puerto Rico. Photos courtesy of  UNC Global Storytelling.

“My adviser told me about this class, and I got excited about the opportunity to learn a bit more about what photo and video journalism looked like while also being able to travel somewhere over spring break,” said Loncán, who worked on public relations for the project. “It also just seemed to be a great way to practice the public relations skills I've been learning in class with a project that I would be excited to promote.”

Bella Cankurtaran ’24 appreciated getting a chance to use her Spanish skills and hone her public relations and advertising skills on the trip.

“I had the chance to immerse myself in the journalism world. I learned a great deal about the interview process, how to frame questions, how the camera should be angled, and how to perfect the lighting,” Cankurtaran said. “Personally, I was able to further develop my Spanish skills as Puerto Rican Spanish is a little different than the Spanish I am familiar with from studying abroad in Spain. They have their own lingo, and I was able to learn some new phrases. I gained confidence overall in talking to new people in my second language and understanding different accents.”