Elon Heads to West Coast With Elon in L.A. Program

By Sarah Beth Costello
June 19, 2009

Students in the Elon in L.A. program left May 30 for the second consecutive summer spent in Los Angeles. Elon in L.A. is a six credit program that enables students of all majors to spend nine weeks interning in Los Angeles and taking classes through Elon.

One of the goals for the 2009 program was to extend the reach outside the School of Communications. Of the 28 students involved in the 2009 program, ten are from majors other than communications, including English, music technology and performing arts.

“I  think one of our overall goals is to have people feel more comfortable after they graduate; to move back to L.A and help create a strong Elon alumni base,” said Jay McMerty, program coordinator of Elon in L.A.

This year two classes are being offered through the program: acting and production. Two new staff members have also been hired to handle cultural programming and activities.  Elon in L.A. also has a mentoring program this year that enables students to “team up” with Elon alumni in Los Angeles.


“[Elon in LA] is based on contacts and networking, and the more networking we can provide for students is better off for people in general,” McMerty said.

Student enrollment for the program increased by eight percent this year, and seven out of nine seniors from the 2008 program returned.

Students are required to find internships on their own, although McMerty does assist students during the process. Classes meet every Monday and the acting and production classes work together in what McMerty describes as “a simulated production company.”

The classes produce several films and there are even film competitions.  Students learn both narrative and reality TV and have a couple opportunities to enter in friendly competitions put on by the program where people can vote on the best short film.

Elon in L.A. is open for anyone interested.

“I would advise that [students] need to be active in their major whatever their major is,” McMerty said. “We’d love to have a wide variety of students, but we want active students.”

There is an application process, essay requirement and possible interviews. Elon in L.A. works similarly to study abroad. The nine-week stay in L.A. is not a trip or vacation. McMerty stresses that students are going to college in L.A. and need to be professional.

“The goal is not to have everyone living in L.A. [after college]. You learn what you like and you learn what you don’t like,” McMerty said.


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