Marketing Communication students Lucia Mulligan ‘22 and Maddy Domek ‘22 both transferred to Emerson in their second year but didn’t meet until the end of their undergraduate careers on a Global Pathways program.
Shocked that they hadn’t met each other as transfer students taking the same classes, with the help of Associate Professor of Economics and Interim chair of the Department of Marketing Communication Nejem Raheem, the two worked together to create a Marketing Fellows program (MK) to provide more opportunities for students to meet.
“We felt, as transfer students, that we kind of got lost in the mix. There weren’t a lot of outlets for Marketing Communication majors to huddle up,” Domek said. “I don’t know who had the idea, but it came up that there should be some student-run leadership program where Marketing Communication majors make events for Marketing Communication majors.”
Environmental Ecuadorian Excursion
The two met last summer, when Domek and Mulligan participated in the Integrated Marketing & Sustainable Tourism: Choco Region & Galapagos Islands Global Pathways program in Quito, Ecuador. Over the course of the program, students study topics such as biodiversity conservation, local cultural preservation, and sustainable tourism. The program culminated in creating a marketing campaign for the Santa Lucia Ecolodge to increase local tourism.
Domek and Mulligan were two of the four Emerson students who participated in the class taught by Raheem. Students gained real-world, hands-on marketing experience by working with the Santa Lucía Ecolodge, and became immersed in Ecuador’s culture through staying with host families. Students worked with faculty from the Universidad San Francisco in Quito and learned about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations.
“We learned a lot about how to equitably practice marketing in places where it’s good for a community, not just where it’s good for a company to overtake a community,” Mulligan said.
“Santa Lucía is unique in that its business is entirely sustainable,” Domek said. “They grow their own food, have compostable toilets, and they’re really benefiting the cloud forest instead of taking away from it.”
With limited Wi-Fi, electricity, or connection to the world, the lodge provides an opportunity for visitors to disconnect from their daily routines and enter the peaceful cloud forest.
The students also spoke with lodge employees about what the lodge needed to develop a business plan that met the lodge’s needs. The business plan created by the students recommended strategies to boost the ecolodge’s business by attracting more Ecuadorians to visit and work for the lodge.
Upon reflecting on their experience, both Mulligan and Domek felt that the course impacted their view of sustainability.
“I went into the course thinking that sustainability is just being green — it was just about recycling and composting, but sustainability is so much more,” Domek said. Mulligan learned that sustainability is a practice that should be instilled in all industries, and she wants to bring it with her wherever she goes.
Growing Connections Through Programming
Program participants spent a lot of travel time in cars or buses chatting with Raheem. After several years of the pandemic limiting in-person events, Mulligan and Domek were excited to help foster a community in the Marketing Communication department.
Raheem appreciated hearing the students’ feedback, and said that the pandemic interrupted a similar initiative to increase engagement amongst Marketing Communication students.
“So, a few years go by… and I’m in Ecuador, with Maddy and Lucia. And we’re all talking about this weird situation where two students, both transfers, both seniors in [Marketing Communication], have never met each other before coming to Ecuador, and how we can try to make that not happen,” Raheem said.
With Raheem’s help, together the two organized programming within the department including social events such as a transfer student mixer, as well as professional events like the Pro Skills Series that invites professors to teach specific topics that wouldn’t warrant an entire class. Raheem helped organize workshops on topics such as Excel, cover letters, and how to pitch yourself. Domek and Mulligan reached out to Marketing Communication students directly, and provided input on department orientation.
“The most important goal is to work on building community in the Marketing Communication department,” said Raheem. “This is between students, and between students and faculty.”
Domek and Mulligan helped Raheem develop a recruiting and interviewing process for new fellows so the program can live on after them.
“I hope that we’ve had a positive impact on the student community,” Raheem said, adding he’s following the fellows’ progress to discuss its success toward the end of the semester. “So far I hear really good things from people. We’ll keep this going. We might even expand it. I have high hopes.”
Domek and Mulligan enjoyed connecting with fellow Marketing Communication students because that’s something they missed out on during their Emerson experience due to the pandemic.
“Emerson is such a nice community for giving people opportunities. I’ve been able to have such an enriching college experience because people will help you get to where you want to go. It’s a very supportive community,” Domek said. “I wouldn’t have been able to start an art organization or the MK Fellows program if I weren’t at Emerson.”