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Summer on the Cuyahoga encourages students from elite universities to see all that Cleveland has to offer

Summer on the Cuyahoga

When Naomita Yadav came to Cleveland two years ago for a summer internship program she had never been to the Midwest. But the Yale University student was so impressed with the city she decided to pursue a career here.

So how did a Yale student originally from New Delhi, India, end up wanting to live and work in Cleveland? Summer on the Cuyahoga (SOTC), an innovative internship program now in its third year. SOTC, which is hosted by Case Western Reserve University, is seeing results: this year, about 70 students will live together on the university's campus for an intensive summer immersion program that will help them explore professional, civic and social offerings in the Cleveland area with an ultimate goal of attracting outstanding graduates to permanently work and live in Northeast Ohio.

Some of the participants from previous installments of SOTC such as Yadav are doing just that. To date, program organizers said six students who participated in SOTC are planning to work and live in Cleveland: three who graduated from Case, two from Yale and one from Colgate. Organizers expect the numbers to increase as post-graduation plans are being finalized.

There are new aspects to SOTC. This year, Smith College has participants for the first time, along with students from the current participating schools of Case, Yale, Princeton and Colgate universities. About 700 students applied for the summer 2005 program, and SOTC has grown from 50 students last year to around 70 this summer, with 16 of the students from Case.

Yadav, who graduated from Yale with a degree in biomedical engineering, said, "I chose this program because the internships were to my liking, and I thought it would be interesting to go to a city I'd never been to before." During her time with SOTC, she interned with the BioEnterprise Corp.

SOTC is driven by a collaborative effort among local alumni volunteers of the respective institutions. In partnership with employers and community leaders, the program showcases the region's opportunities to the student participants. The students will live on Case's campus for 10 weeks and will earn at least $2,800 by working paid internships at area companies, nonprofit organizations and public institutions. SOTC is supported by corporate sponsors and fundraising. Employers post the positions on a Web site, and they select who will participate in the program.

Yadav said she had positive experiences with SOTC professionally and personally. "I never met people who cared so much about you - not only the program directors but the employers who ran the internship program. The Midwestern hospitality was never shown better than in Cleveland." She will assist with this year's SOTC program before beginning her new job as a business analyst in Cleveland with McKinsey & Co. in September.

According to Marianne Crosley, program coordinator, SOTC is modeled after a program conceived by a Louisville, Ky.-based Yale alumnus who wanted to be proactive in encouraging college-educated students to remain in or consider Louisville as a viable option compared to cities such as New York or Los Angeles. The first year of the program in Cleveland was a Yale initiative known as Bulldogs on the Cuyahoga, which has since evolved into SOTC, with Case as a full partner and the host institution.

Crosley said the alumni volunteers of the respective institutions do a good job in promoting the Cleveland area. "This was a great way to connect their feelings as alums with their hopes for the development of Cleveland. It has energized the alumni base." She said about 150 volunteers do everything from hosting students to connecting with potential employers in search of interns.

Jennifer Schuller, assistant director of outreach for Case's office of alumni relations, programs, and events, said the target audience for participants is second and third-year students, and that although showcasing the potential of working in Cleveland is important, so is showing students the fun side of town. "They will catch a baseball game, take a city tour on Lolly the Trolley, visit museums and participate in community service projects."

 

About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work. http://www.case.edu.