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Final Four Offers Slam Dunk Learning Experience for Niagara University Students

March 28, 2012 by Michael J. Freedman

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Niagara University is headed to the Final Four.

Don't worry, your bracket isn't busted ”“ the seven NU students headed to New Orleans on March 28 will be juggling hospitality duties, not dribbling basketballs.

The trip is one of several unique experiential learning opportunities that Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management offers to its students. For example, NU students have participated in activities associated with four Super Bowls (including the last three), Major League Baseball spring trainings and a Women's Final Four. This trip will mark Niagara's first foray into organizing events for the Men's Final Four.

“We really try to provide our students with as many hands-on learning and networking opportunities as possible,” said Dexter Davis, Ed.D., an assistant professor of sport management who will accompany the students to New Orleans. “We have had great success generating contacts and placing students in jobs as the result of their involvement in these activities.”

Joining Dr. Davis in “The Big Easy” will be NU students Sean Byrne, Emily Carson, Ashley Dilcher, Megan Forsyth, Aubrey Kettrick, Darien Kinney and Stephen McCarthy. While in New Orleans, the group will work with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the NCAA's sponsorship committee, and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, the city's sports commission and host of next year's Super Bowl organizing committee.

(The Men's Final Four takes place Saturday night, with the championship game scheduled for Monday evening.)

The Niagara contingent will be helping to activate sponsorships and facilitate Youth Day activities in Bracket Town, the NCAA's fan experience area located in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. And in accordance with the university's mission, NU students will partner with two community-minded organizations, Samaritan's Feet and Feed the Hungry, on a service project designed to provide food and sneakers to underprivileged children from throughout the Greater New Orleans area.

At the same time, another five Niagara students will fly to Miami to assist with ancillary activities associated with WrestleMania XXVIII, World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) marquee event. Cara Bacelli, Kevin Eckert, Jason Freeman, Anthony Pettinelli and Matt Vorpahl  will represent NU during the WWE's golf tournament and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Students undergo a fairly rigorous process to be selected for the trips. Resumes and cover letters are collected and interviews are conducted to determine which students to take.

For more information on Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, please call 716.286.8279 or visit www.niagara.edu/hospitality.

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