Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College forges international links

At Medgar Ever College’s School of Business, “experiential learning” is not just a phrase but a road-tested educational approach.

Most recently, the Brooklyn-based college said the road took Business School Dean Jo-Ann Rolle and several students on a 10-day trip to Japan, China, and Thailand.

Focused on entrepreneurship, the students met School of Business Industry Board Advisor W. Dave Dowrich of AIG in Japan, as well as leaders of start-ups and major corporations, according to school officials.

“The point is that they see a world beyond them,” Rolle said. “To do that, you have to understand culture and market niche.”

Although most Evers students rely on financial aid and lack the means for extensive travel, the School of Business works hard to forge a national and international network of connections.

Rolle has taken students to Kenya and throughout the Caribbean, adding that their travels are “striking for a City University of New York college without extensive resources.”

The students, regarded as “ambassadors of both Brooklyn USA,” posed for photos on the Great Wall in China, visited temples, and had tea in the homes of families, officials said

In all three countries, the students drew attention from local residents, “who sometimes asked to pose with them for photographs.”

The trip was funded by the CUNY Investment Initiative Grant.

Working with Dr. Iris Billy, Director of the Entrepreneurship and Experiential Learning Lab, students were able to see Asia up close, as well as businesses with more of a technology than a community basis.

The college’s lab supports student, community, and international entrepreneurs with a focus on minority- and women-owned businesses.

“The goal is to go beyond finding jobs to creating jobs,” officials said. “The Asia trip was but the latest example of how MEC’s EEL lab is making inroads into the business world.”

Ashley Warmington, a product of the lab, became the first woman ever to win the grand prize in the prestigious CUNY SmartPitch competition in May, taking home $10,000, MEC said. She has an Airbnb concierge service.

In addition, MEC said Aliza Carter and Anika McInnis are the first two students to co-author a published paper, titled “Increasing Social Media for Women & Minority firms.” Written with Dean Rolle and Dr. Billy, it appeared in the November, 2016 issue of the International Journal of Education and Social Science, a monthly, peer-reviewed journal.

The Asia trip students represented a variety of majors, including Business, Computer Science and Psychology, MEC said. Two students are MEC graduates pursuing MBA degrees at LIU, Brooklyn.

“It was awesome,” said Laneika Lyons, a sophomore Computer Science major whose business creates apps for small business owners in the beauty industry.

“Most of the businesses we talked to were start-ups, so they are closer to where we are in development,” she added. “It was all informal, just sitting around asking questions. They told us the good, the bad, and the ugly.”