Spring Break Trip to California Provides New Perspectives and Expanded Networks

LeBow BRIDGE undergraduates in San Diego, Calif. during spring break 2022

As LeBow’s BRIDGE program celebrates 10 years since its founding, BRIDGE students resumed the annual tradition of a spring break trip spent visiting companies and networking with Drexel alumni in other cities. Nineteen students, along with Associate Dean for Academic Programs Administration Brian Ellis, PhD, BRIDGE Program Director Porsche Johnson and several members of Drexel’s Institutional Advancement staff made the trip to Southern California from March 20-27.

“This trip makes connections for the University and the BRIDGE students,” Johnson says. “It’s a transformative experience for the students and allows them to see beyond what they know and motivates them to strive for more.”

The first two days on the trip were spent in San Diego and focused on community service with visits to Options For All, a nonprofit organization providing services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and to Feeding San Diego, which supports individuals at risk of hunger.

Ken Barnes MBA ’11, CEO of Options for All, led the students on the first tour of the San Diego headquarters since before the pandemic and outlined how the company reinvented its services to adapt to the remote environment over the past two years.

At Feeding San Diego, the students worked to assemble over 300 kits of essential items for distribution in the community.

The visit to Options For All was an eye-opener for Alexis Brown, a second-year business analytics and sport business major.

“I thought that nonprofit companies couldn’t pay their employees as much as a for-profit company could,” Brown said. “However, that isn’t always the case, and I learned how you can make money and still support a cause close to your heart.”

The second phase of the trip was all about networking: meeting with alumni, learning about where their LeBow experience has led them and finding out what kinds of opportunities could await them in Southern California and elsewhere.

Highlights included a networking event in Orange County hosted by Joe Dillon ‘91 and Barbara Rea ‘99 of the Drexel SoCal Entrepreneur Alumni Network, dinner with BRIDGE alumni James Atkinson ‘19 and Kevin Doi ‘19 and a lunch with Kathy and Ron Disney ‘72. The Disneys previously met with BRIDGE students in Dallas during their 2018 spring break trip and have been supporters of the program in the years since.

William Wonjah, a first-year marketing and business analytics major, had the opportunity to speak with Ron Disney and came away impressed.

“It was really memorable just being able to listen to his realizations from his past business ventures, as well as his insights on what he believes the business world will become because of my generation,” he said.

The final two days of the trip were the star-studded portion: a visit to the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles and an information session with AEG Live, venue and tour management company and owners of Crypto.com Arena, home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Nyla Paige, first-year real estate and development major, was surprised to learn that AEG presents many festivals in her hometown of New Orleans.

“Out of all the places I visited, I could see myself working at AEG,” she said. “I really liked the fact that they develop some of their own venues and that their business is global, with roles spread across the world.”

Students’ immersion in the world of major sports venues continued the next day with a tour of SoFi Stadium, home field of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. The tour came just weeks after the stadium hosted Super Bowl LVI, won by the hometown Rams, and after spending time on the field, including throwing footballs and running timed sprints, the LeBow contingent wrapped up a whirlwind week feeling like big winners themselves.

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