What’s any 100-year celebration without a party?
That was Drexel University’s approach for kicking off its Co-op Send-off event on March 5 in the Main Building’s Great Court. The Send-off not only served to wish students embarking on spring-summer co-ops well, but also to come together as a co-op loving University community and celebrate our 100th anniversary of cooperative education this academic year.
The inaugural University-wide event offered students the opportunity to reflect and unwind a bit before finals week with free snacks, cute Drexel-themed photo ops and encouraging words from the University’s academic and cooperative education leaders.
“We know you will work hard, learn a great deal, and identify future employment opportunities with some of these great organizations,” said Ian Sladen, vice president of cooperative education and career development for the Steinbright Career Development Center, in his remarks. He also confirmed a few of these great organizations where spring-summer co-op students will be working, including PECO, Comcast, CHOP, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin and Amazon, to name a few.
Sladen told DrexelNow that Steinbright followed the lead of the LeBow College of Business and the Close School of Entrepreneurship for this event, as they had both done co-op send-offs in the past.
“It’s a feel-good event, and it’s important that our students are sent off in the right way,” he said, “to let them know that we’re still here for them and we’re proud of them in all of their accomplishments.”
In her remarks, Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Undergraduate Affairs Erin McNamara Horvat, PhD, relayed the importance of co-op to the University, and that the fact Drexel has been doing it successfully for 100 years speaks volumes about its success as an education model.
“We are literally the envy of Universities across the country,” Horvat said. “We know how to do it right, and each of you will be the beneficiary of that institutional success.”
Students in attendance reflected on the history of cooperative education at Drexel, and their place in it. Sarah Scanlin, a second-year electrical engineering major embarking on her first co-op with AKF Group this spring, said it’s cool to think about how hers is one of the first co-ops to represent Drexel’s second century of excellence.
“My grandfather went here, so seeing how far the co-op program has come and how much has changed and what it’s evolved into is really cool to think about,” she said. “Most students aren’t getting these job [opportunities], so for us to have a way to celebrate, I think it’s really cool that Drexel is doing [this event].”
From left to right: Karli Akin, Sarah Scanlin and Erika Garro, all second-year engineering students embarking on their first co-op this spring, attend the Co-op Send-off event at Drexel University's Great Court.
For other students, the event was a welcome reprieve from the work ahead, including final projects and exams, as well as transitioning into co-op mode. And of course, the added benefit of fueling up on free snacks.
“I mean, we’re all getting to talk about our co-ops and how excited we are for the experience,” said Karli Akin, a second-year materials science and engineering student doing her first co-op at NewAge Industries.
“I think the event is a really cute way to celebrate just how we have these opportunities, and we’re kind of just going full-force into the industry to apply what we’re learning,” added Erika Garro, also a second-year materials science and engineering student doing her first co-op at Estée Lauder. “But, overall, I just like that there’s free food.”
Ryan Barrett, a junior chemical engineering student preparing for his third co-op next term, said the send-off felt like a pre-celebration before entering into finals week, and helped him “appreciate what we’re stepping into despite the challenges we’re about to face.”
He also said that when his class started its freshman year, the University was then celebrating the 125th anniversary since its opening.
Ryan Barrett (middle left) and his friend Phu Phan (middle right) join in a celebratory toast at Drexel University's Co-op Send-off event alongside fellow students, faculty and staff.
“It’s nice to be here at certain times when it’s festive on campus,” he said. “… It’s nice to be for that hallmark year of achievement, and recognize a century of success.”
And recognizing that success for Drexel these future co-op students — or rather predicting it — was what the inaugural Co-op Send-off event was all about.
“This is a little risky, but I’ll make one prediction,” Horvat said in her remarks. “You’re going to be amazed at all that you will learn and achieve in the next few months. This is something that countless Drexel undergraduates have discovered over what is now a century of co-operative education at this University.”
“Here’s to you, our co-op students, who represent Drexel University so very well through your meaningful contributions to our industry employers,” Sladen ended the remarks, as the students, faculty and staff gathered all help up glasses of sparkling cider. “Best wishes to all of you on a successful spring-summer co-op. Cheers!”