Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College
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Real-world experience key to event management program

October 8, 2015

Senior Carly Schooley was prepared to help coordinate special dinners and events for donors during her internship at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Mo., this summer.

What she hadn’t thought about was how to respond when 8,000 people show up for an outdoor production in the middle of a tornado warning.

“It wasn’t part of my internship, but it was interesting to see how the theatre responded,” she said. “I never thought about that before, but now I understand risk management.”

Being prepared for the unexpected is a key lesson in event and convention management, but not one that can be taught in a classroom. That’s why Cindy Hazelrigg, assistant professor of event and convention management at Stephens, makes sure students like Schooley get practical experience in addition to their academic studies.

“When they graduate, I want them to have a wealth of knowledge and experience enriched by not only courses but practicum experience they’ve gotten out in the community,” Hazelrigg said. “Each semester, we focus on one style or type of event, and there are always opportunities.”

Since the Event and Convention Management degree was added in 2013, students have assisted with an annual Cancer Research Center Gala, the Heart of Missouri United Way campaign, the Ronald McDonald House’s Red Show Gala and a number of private weddings and campus events.

Schooley worked in the development office during her internship at Starlight. She planned a stewardship event, helped come up with menus for dinners, helped create center pieces using photos from dress rehearsals and made sure donors received special keepsakes.

“It gave me an idea of what nonprofit work is like,” she said. “It was a great real-world experience, and my class lessons now make a lot of sense. I liked working in a development office and that side of the event world.”

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