CHAMP pushes students to next level of career development

As Tiffany Knighten, a senior communications major admired the impressive view of the Financial District of lower Manhattan, she contemplated the wisdom shared by Dario Spina, the executive vice president of integrated marketing for Viacom shared over lunch.

Knighten was granted the opportunity to meet with Spina, a Seton Hall alumnus, through the Communication Honors Associates Mentor Program (CHAMP) offered at Seton Hall.

CHAMP “was designed to connect communication students to successful alumni to learn and benefit from their experiences” said Reesa Greenwald, the director of the Career Center and CHAMP co-founder.

This program was created in 2010 by Paul Ward, a SHU alum, in collaboration with the Career Center and Department of Communication and the Arts and has since ignited the careers of many students including Knighten.

Greenwald explained that the goal is to connect students with a mentor who has successfully established themselves professionally since graduating from Seton Hall to aid in the development of professional networking skills.

Much of Knighten’s success is linked to her involvement, as she was eventually hired by her mentor.

“I’ve gained a network of support that has guided me in my academic and professional journey,” said Knighten.

Reflecting on their memorable lunch together, Knighten recalls Spina’s words: “I will always be successful as long as I have integrity.”

Paul Ward, executive vice president of primetime acquisitions and strategy, for the Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, was inspired to create CHAMP and use his mentoring experience to help Seton Hall students.

Ward’s mentees include Brenna Fleis, a senior public relations major.

Fleis stated that Ward “has helped me from ‘perfecting’ my resume to giving me advice for an interview with the CEO of Make-A-Wish NJ.”

Since joining CHAMP, Fleis has seen a marked improvement in her academic success as well as her hunt for a job. CHAMP is a strength to the Communication Department, as former mentees have since achieved notable positions within the field.

“The students build relationships and networks that help them launch successful careers, learning how professionals acquired the skills and knowledge to get where they are today,” said Melissa May, professor of public relations.

Monthly meetings with mentors allow the students within CHAMP to develop strong relationships and gain insight.

“Upperclassmen with high GPA’s and active involvement in campus activities and internships are the program’s strongest candidates, although outstanding sophomores may also earn a spot,” said May.

The relationships established further reinforces students’ decisions to study at Seton Hall, and illuminates what it means to be a Pirate: to “love thy neighbor” and help one another.

Kelly Zarnowski can be reached at kelly.

Author: Staff Writer

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