This Fall Break, a group of 23 students along with professors Dr. Jonathan Stewart, Dr. Joyce Haley, COBA Executive in Residence David Swearingen, and ACU Chief Marketing Officer Jason Groves headed north to the single most competitive work environment in the country-New York City. While in New York, the group was able to visit Wall Street and meet with executives from companies like Johnson & Johnson, Magnet Media, Dentsu American, CNN and the NBA. Brandon Baker, a ’98 ACU graduate, hosted the group as they toured the New York Stock Exchange. Brandon now serves as the organization’s vice president of information technology. Seeing ACU alumni like Brandon succeed in such a competitive business environment shows how competitive ACU students are against graduates from larger elite schools, such as Harvard and Yale. ACU students are able to infuse faith into their work, offering a set of ethics and values to the marketplace. Swearingen states, “If there’s anything business needs more of, it is Christians who bring their ethics and values into the marketplace. That’s what ACU students and grads do.”
“Being in NYC was so empowering! There are opportunities everywhere you look. We have discussed businesses in a classroom setting, but actually meeting business CEOs and leaders gave us a whole new perspective of how companies operate,” states Gentry McMath, junior accounting major.
Amanda Clary, Shannon Ball, Sarah Hailey, Whitney Stevens, Jaci Isham, Gentry McMath, Natalie Goin, Allie Rostron, Savannah Smith, Amy Sloan and Meghan Eager on the NYC fall break trip.
So, as we’ve mentioned here earlier, 27 business students, 2 COBA faculty members and our Executive in Residence (and his sweet wife) traveled to the Big City. For four days, our students took in an impressive line up of meetings: they visited NYSE – and took in the view from the Exchange floor; Tommy Hilfiger’s corporate headquarters, and received a tour of their facility from his sister; AmEx headquarters; CNN New York, and a tour of Johnson & Johnson’s corporate headquarters, in New Jersey, as well as an opportunity to hear from a variety of J&J executives.
COBA students at AMEX headquarters
We recently asked some of the students who went to reflect on their experience:
What was your favorite part of the trip?
- “The most enjoyable part of my trip to NY would be the chance we got to walk the floor of the NYSE. Standing on the floor was an overwhelming feeling after seeing it countless times on the news and in movies.”
- “I loved getting to tour the corporations and learn from the executive’s experiences. It was also really encouraging to meet ACU graduates that have achieved so many things in the few years they have been out of college.”
- “My favorite part of the trip was going to visit with Johnson & Johnson. The culture of that company is amazing; they have a love and passion for people, be it the employees, customers, or just people in general, they truly want to help above all else and that really showed through in their presentation.”
- “Visiting Central Park!”
On the Exchange floor
What business meeting or conversation did you learn the most from?
- “If I had to choose one business we met with that I gained the most from, I would have to leave it with CNN. I had no idea the level of involvement a news provider has in the actually news being announced. CNN has the knowledge of more details involving most news than the public is aloud to know.”
- “Johnson & Johnson was my favorite stop along the tour. They did a really great job of telling us about their company and its values. We got to soak up their culture while we were there. They showed us their athletic facilities and we ate lunch in their cafeteria. It was nice to see that a successful company that has been around for 125 years has values that match mine.”
- “I learned the most from the Sunday morning conversation at the Manhattan Church of Christ. There were so many business professionals there from all different kinds of industries and they gave us great insights and advise. I especially liked that we got a little time to connect with some of them before and after the panel conversation. It was truly amazing hearing from both young and older, hearing their perspectives, stories, and how their lives as Christians play a part in how they do business.”
- “I learned the most from visiting the New York Stock Exchange. We met with a young professional who was in marketing, he created markets for stock by buying and trading at incredibly fast rates. The process of doing business at the NYSE has radically changed in the last 4 years. It was awesome to have the opportunity to experience that.”
- “Interacting with Johnson and Johnson was the most beneficial conversation through out the whole trip. Johnson and Johnson really emphasized on teamwork and not so much grades which really impacted my life as a hard working ‘C’ student. “Its not the grades you make but the hands you shake.””
COBA students in NYC
How has going on this trip affected your studies and/or focus here in COBA?
- “Before going to NY, I had a goal to establish a moderate sized, successful business from my own hard work. My goal of a successful business has completely evolved into a much higher benchmark after seeing what was accomplished by the people we were so fortunate to meet with.”
- “The trip helps put some of your classes into perspective and reminds you why you’re taking these classes. It will definitely help me push through to the end of the semester and look forward to my future career.”
- “I want to push myself to take classes that are going to help me not only in the field I’m majoring in but classes that could help me differentiate myself and help me in whichever field I end up working in after I leave ACU.”
Tommy Hilfiger's Corporate Offices
What advice do you have for current students who might be considering going on this trip next time?
- “Don’t miss an opportunity to go on this trip. This trip will show you more successful businesses and individuals than you ever knew existed. I am so thankful for this trip, and I was blessed to be able to go. The best way to describe a trip of this scale is, “priceless.” “
- “I would highly recommend going on a trip like this. You will receive great advice from successful people and you will also receive several contacts that could possibly lead to a job offer one day. It was great to see what the business atmosphere in New York City was like and to meet some of the top executives at Fortune 500 companies!”
- “I would tell anyone that this trip is amazing; I was afraid about being in NYC without friends or family but with Dr. Lynn, Dr. Stewart, and the Swearingens, I was very comfortable and learned so much on the trip. You will have a lot of fun while learning about the city and the companies, it is a worthwhile experience. “
- “GO! Don’t hesitate attending this trip. You have to learn how to experience ‘the city life’ on your own time, and a COBA trip is the perfect time to be able to interact first hand.”
Meeting with Johnson&Johnson executives
COBA students had a mentoring session with business executives that are also members of the Manhattan Church of Christ
For more pictures from the trip, visit or facebook page.
Earlier this summer, three b-school professors, Dr. Jim Litton, Dr. Darryl Jinkerson and Dr. Andy Little headed to Mission Lazarus, in the Choluteca area of Honduras. ACU and the College of Business, in particular, have a unique relationship with Mission Lazarus. COBA grad Jarrod Brown co-founded the mission after a high-paying job was leaving him unsatisfied. Brown says, “The defining moment was seeing a need in the mission field where my business training from ACU could be a valuable asset for the Lord’s kingdom, rather than just for my pocketbook.”
Mission Lazarus focuses on four specific areas: agricultural teaching, medical clinics, educational programs and schools and spiritual formation ministries. To read more about Mission Lazarus, visit their website here.
We recently caught up with Dr. Little to find out more about their visit to Mission Lazarus:
- What was the purpose of the trip? What did you all do while there?
The Griggs Center sponsored our trip to Honduras to scout potential locations and partners for future global business programs for COBA students. Jim Litton, Director of the Griggs Center, invited Darryl Jinkerson and me to join him in visiting with Jarrod Brown and the Mission Lazarus staff on-site in the Choluteca area of Honduras. We spent time touring the Mission Lazarus facility, meeting with Jarrod to discuss possible opportunities, and getting to know the Honduran people and culture. We paid particular attention to ways in which COBA students interested in social entrepreneurship might be able to work with Mission Lazarus in some kind of short-term internship opportunity. Future plans are still in the embryonic phase, but this trip gave us tangible data by which to assess the possibilities and inspired us to work to provide students with opportunities in Central America.
View from the Mission
- Why do you think it’s important that are students have the opportunity to visit and work with Mission Lazarus?
Mission Lazarus is an amazing place, led by a dynamic team. Jarrod is a visionary leader of the highest caliber, and he has surrounded himself with talented people and supporters who help him implement his dream of transforming an impoverished nation for Christ. He has taken several otherwise traditional organizational models–evangelistic missions, for-profit business, rural health care, and education–and combined them in a way that is unique and all-encompassing. I think COBA wants its students to have access to and be inspired by this kind of leadership. More than this, Mission Lazarus fits perfectly with the social entrepreneurship emphasis in the Griggs Center.
- What do you hope our students learn from the class?
Our goal is to put together a multi-week program that combines stateside coursework with an internship at Mission Lazarus focusing on social entrepreneurship in the developing world. If we are successful in making this offering happen, we think it can be a flagship program for the Griggs Center and give students real-world experience with social entrepreneurship. Ultimately, I think much of what students could learn will be internal: the experience we hope to create will help them find out who they are and what really matters to them.
the Refuge at Mission Lazarus
If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity or the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.