Emma Carlo (Class of 2021)
Though I still have over one year left in my college career, I have traveled quite the winding road since my freshman year.
I thought the best way to give a snapshot into my life at Niagara was to explain where I started and how far I have come. Starting on the first day of freshman year, I was terrified. I remember how it felt when my parents closed my dorm door and left me alone for the first time, I was so nervous.
Luckily, that feeling did not last long as I started my official orientation and started to meet a ton of other students who were in the exact same boat as me. New Student Orientation allowed all of the freshmen to have a weekend-long celebration before school started to get acclimated with campus, meet other students, and explore the area. After the end of orientation, as I sat beneath the fireworks with my newfound friends at the club fair, I knew Niagara University would be the place for me.
Classes started quickly and so did my campus life. A couple of weeks after school began, I joined NU’s women’s rugby team and found a new family. I had played rugby in high school, but the majority of women that I played with had never played before college.
Rugby opened the door to a warm, welcoming, and passionate environment that truly changed my entire college career. Niagara University offers over 80 clubs and club sports, and they are the best way to meet new people.
Around the same time of my first rugby practice, I went to my first Hospitality and Tourism Association meeting. As a tourism major, I felt it was a good idea to get involved with my major outside of the classroom and it was one of the best decisions I made at NU.
This club introduced me to other students in my major, but it also taught me professional development skills, allowed me to travel around the country, and tour phenomenal hospitality operations from hotels to convention centers to country clubs. I became so invested in this club that I undertook an officer position during my first semester of freshman year.
As the semester began to come to a close, I found out about becoming a campus tour guide and the student ambassador program. Though I was still new to the university, I had true Purple Eagle Pride and I felt “tour guiding” would allow me to express that to prospective students and their families.
My second semester came and went with lifelong memories to hold onto. I started to form personal connections with my professors, strengthen friendships, and learn so much about my passion for tourism. At this point, I began to explore study abroad opportunities and off-campus internships to pursue my studies even further. Niagara University is passionate about giving students hands-on opportunities and they strongly encourage off-campus, credit-earning learning. This led me to start to consider applying for the Disney College Program (DCP).
My freshman year ended as quickly as it started, but my summer was spent in excitement for my next semester to begin. As I began my sophomore year, I was finally ready to apply for the Disney College Program for my spring semester. This was very nerve-racking, but Niagara did everything they could to make sure the program went as smooth as possible for me, while allowing me to earn 12 course credits.
Before I left, I started a position as lead program intern for Niagara University’s presentation of Disney Institute. This program brings in over 200 business professionals to attend a daylong seminar that teaches Disney’s approach to several different topics.
This internship was extremely rewarding and so flexible that I brought it with me to Florida when I moved down for the Disney College Program. As part of the DCP, I worked in luggage services at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. As a sophomore tourism student, I was working full time at a four-star resort at the top hospitality corporation in the world. I matured and learned more than I ever thought I could in those five months, and I will never forget the time I spent in Walt Disney World.
I returned to Niagara University with a newfound appreciation and understanding for the hospitality industry, and my life at NU picked right back up where it left off. Now a junior, I continued as the lead program intern for Disney Institute and started several other new positions. I was nominated as captain for women’s rugby, elected vice president of the Hospitality and Tourism Association, and offered the co-director position for the campus tour guide program.
Still, after all of these incredible opportunities, I was wanderlust for a study abroad opportunity. This led me to my newest adventure, as I will be pursuing a summer study abroad opportunity in Peru. This study abroad is through the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management and I will be studying and interning in Peru while also exploring the Amazon Rainforest, hiking Machu Pichu, white water rafting, horseback riding, and excavating Incan archaeological sites.
I am so excited for this life-changing opportunity and even more thankful to Niagara University for all that it has offered and provided to me.