From watching a taping of “The Late Show with David Letterman” to getting assignments on the air, 14 SoC students learned at the center of media production this summer during the sixth annual New York Experience course, led by Professor Ellen Fleysher.

“The idea for students in the New York Experience is that you are exposed to more than the classroom, more than student media, and even more than local media,” Fleysher said. “You’re working at a national level with the best and brightest. You can only be inspired by the people you work with, be stretched and grow from that.”

More than 100 SoC students have been through the New York Experience and media are now recruiting more heavily from the SoC, Fleysher said. “Our students are competing nationally for these positions, and the feedback from employers is excellent,” she said.

Throughout the summer, students worked at some of the world’s leading media outlets, including CBS News, Fox News, O Magazine, Mashable United Stations Radio, Major League Baseball and Flyover Pictures. They worked on diverse assignments including editorial, social media, production, and programming.

“My summer at Fox News was absolutely incredible,” said Elena Tayem. “Almost every day I was able to go out into the field to shoot and interview people for stories that I pitched. I was also given the opportunity to improve my production skills by interning on ‘The Five.’ ” 

On Wednesday evenings, the students gathered to share their experiences, and meet industry leaders who advised students and fielded questions. Nick Verbitsky, the Chairman and CEO of United Stations Radio Networks and a member of the SoC Visiting Committee, donated his Midtown boardroom for the class sessions.

Alexa Pappas, who interned on the editorial team, said one of the highlights of her summer was a class visit from Alice McGillion, Executive Vice President of Howard Rubenstein Public Relations, who helped with the campaign to attract the Super Bowl to New Jersey. “As a sports fan, I was fascinated by her — this woman had the ability to convince a room full of executives that it would be a good idea to move an event, that is essentially a national holiday, to a cold-weather stadium — something that had never been done before,” she said.

Students also attended a taping of “The Late Show with David Letterman,” now in its final season, and enjoyed a pizza night with Linda Ellerbee, Executive Producer with Lucky Duck Productions, and host of “Nick News” on Nickelodeon. They experienced the cultural life of the city together, seeing Shakespeare in the Park, visiting museums and art exhibits, and checking out concerts and sports, Fleysher said.   

“I had the chance to see what it’s like to live and work in New York City, the media capital of the world, and it was almost like a test drive to help me decide if it’s what I want to do when I graduate,” said Lyssa Goldberg, who interned at Mashable. “The experience helped me learn not only to navigate the streets of NY (which is worth a lot more than you’d think) but also to meet editors, including UM SoC alumni, both on my own and through the weekly class.”

The New York Experience is supported by a gift from Frankie Wolfson, President of Marine R. Corp., who serves on the UM Board of Trustees and the SoC Visiting Committee. The gift helps students to afford rent and living expenses during their internships, Fleysher said. 

New York Experience students and their assignments:

  • Kate Monahan, CBS News “CBS This Morning” intern
  • Jordan Schuman, CBS News “CBS This Morning-Weekend” intern
  • Erika Glass, CBS News Foreign Desk intern
  • Jeffrey Cohn, CBS News “Sunday Morning” intern
  • Alexa Pappas, editorial intern
  • Kristi Sokol, Fox News “Happening Now” intern
  • Neil Dwyer, CBS Sports Radio Network intern
  • Amber Couzo, CBS Sports Digital Assets intern  
  • Stephanie Parra, O Magazine editorial intern
  • Annie O’Connell, United Stations Radio Networks social media intern
  • Michael Castillo, United Stations Radio Networks programming intern
  • Lyssa Goldberg, editorial intern
  • Maggie Urban-Waala, Flyover Pictures Nevada documentary project intern
  • Elena Tayem, Fox News Channel student reporter program/website intern


Guest speakers for the New York Experience class:

  • Janice Penino, Vice President of Human Resources for World Wide Pants
  • SoC alumna Randi Fisch, Talent Production with “The Late Show with David Letterman”
  • Linda Ellerbee, Executive Producer, Lucky Duck Productions; Host, “Nick News” on Nickelodeon
  • Len Berman, New York sports anchor
  • SoC alumni Ryan Gurrentz and Adam Berger,
  • SoC alumna Shannon Sommerville, of Bloomberg Sports.
  • Christine Burke, Sr. Producer, Fox News
  • Patricia Peart, Booking Manager, Fox News
  • Jonathan Wachtel, overseas field producer, Fox News
  • SoC alumnus Bryan Llenas, Fox News Latino
  • Alice McGillion, Executive Vice President of Howard Rubenstein Public Relations
  • David Rhodes, President, CBS News
  • David Folkenflik, Chief Media Correspondent, NPR
  • Scott Herman, Executive Vice President of CBS Radio
  • Andy Denemark, of United Stations Radio Networks
  • Mary Catherine Wellons, Social Media Director at CNBC
  • Justin Maiman, Executive Producer of Business Insider
  • SoC alumnus Sam Rega, Business Insider Lead Editor.