CSI Student Service Learning Marketing Research Projects Provide Valuable Insights

On-Point Marketing Research members (L-R:) Jeffrey Drouillard, Lorna Wilson, Susan Fenley (Executive Director, Sundog Theatre), Gideon Omagbemi

Four teams of upper-class marketing research students presented the results of their semester’s marketing research projects to representatives of the Sundog Theatre, Richmond County Orchestra, Riverside Opera Company, and the Little Cupcake Bakeshop recently at the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts.

On-Point Marketing Research members Lorna Wilson, Jeffrey Drouillard, and Gideon Omagbemi gave a 20-minute presentation on their findings to the Director of Sundog Theatre, Susan Fenley.

Elite Entertainment members (L-R:) Katie Kapitan, Melissa Castellanos, Maestro Alan Aurelia (Richmond County Orchestra/Riverside Opera Company), Sandy Tang, Shannon Clark, Kiki Kosmidou, Vincent Cannone

Student researchers from Elite Entertainment including Katie Kapitan, Kiki Kosmidou and Sandy Tang presented their results to Maestro Alan Aurelia of the Richmond Country Orchestra as did C3 Research, Vincent Cannone, Melissa Castellanos, and Shannon Clark with their segment on the maestro’s Riverside Opera Company.

NEKS Level Research members (L-R:) Sagi Alkobi, Kristie Draper, Nelson Ortiz

Market research for a CSI alumni member’s Little Cupcake Bake Shop in Brooklyn, a for-profit business, was presented by NEKS Level Research team members Sagi Alkobi, Kristie Draper, and Nelson Ortiz.

These Student Service Learning presentations were executive summaries of information gleaned from their marketing research projects. Each team met with their client to determine the problem areas; define the research objectives, constructs, and measurements; and to develop a questionnaire. The questionnaires were completed electronically and manually by a convenience sample of both organization supporters as well as Staten Island Chamber of Commerce members who agreed to participate. The students’ data were then analyzed via SPSS, a statistical software application, and then crafted into a final report and PowerPoint presentation. Each team was able to demonstrate new and surprising insights to each organization from their support base as well as Chamber members, and provide real-world suggestions for cultivating future donor/supporter involvement and market expansion potential. This year the students added their first for-profit client.

Past research projects from CSI marketing research students have included a study for a St. John’s University continuing education program; SCORE, Staten Island branch; The American Cancer Society, Staten Island division; and COAHSI, Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island.

Maestro Aurelia commented, “I learned a lot about how we can reach more people on Staten Island and what our general audience is thinking. The teams of students you selected to work on this report were fantastic to work with. I also learned from the other teams’ remarks during their presentation.”

Susan Fenley added, “Thank you so much for allowing Sundog to be part of this wonderful program. I think it was a completely win-win situation, with everyone benefiting.”

Professor Thomas Tellefsen, Chairperson of the Business Department at CSI, acknowledged, “The feedback has been great. It’s particularly gratifying when real managers speak well of our students.”

Jeffrey Drouillard, a student who worked on the Sundog Theatre project noted, “I wanted to thank you for allowing me to be part of something [in which] a select few students get to participate. I have learned so much in this quick semester-–this class gave me an insider look into the real business world–-late nights and very early mornings…Thank you for the learning experience – I will hold it with me wherever I go in the future.”

The client-sponsor for Little Cupcake Bakeshop was not able to attend the presentation because of holiday business issues but stated in an email, “Your students very much impressed me and I know the work will be stellar!” He will receive his report after the holidays.

Bill Dubovsky, Adjunct Lecturer in Business, welcomed the audience with a brief presentation on how marketing research can be used by non-profit organizations to build capacity (audience and supporters) and video-recorded the presentations for future marketing research classes. “Our community client-sponsors all came away with useful information and learned from each other’s presentations. It’s gratifying to see students excited about doing real research and then see their results put to practical use by real organizations,” stated Dubovsky, who thanked them all for their time and support of the students.

Each attending client-sponsor received a copy of the research report, data, the PowerPoint presentation, as well as a PDF copy of Non-profit Marketing – Capacity Building Workshop Participant Workbook to act as a guide in developing marketing strategy from the data.

Students Enlist in National Latino Oral History Project

Rodolfo Rivera and Érika Valdez participated in the StoryCorps Historias project last week.

Students of Hispanic descent at the College of Staten Island had the rare opportunity to participate in the StoryCorps Historias project last week.

The project, according to a StoryCorps statement “is a groundbreaking initiative in partnership with the Latino Public Radio Consortium, Latino USA, and the U.S. Latino and Latina World War II Oral History Project, to record and preserve the diverse stories and life experiences of Latinos in the United States.”

Last Thursday, nine CSI students had the chance to interview their relatives and fellow classmates for the project. The overall attitude from the participants was one of enthusiasm and pride.

Érika Valdez, a junior who is double-majoring in Spanish and English, said, “It was fun. I honestly enjoyed it.” 

Érika interviewed Rodolfo Rivera, a senior who is also a double-major in Spanish and English. He walked over the U.S. border over 20 years ago with a ninth-grade education and no clear plans for the future. Since then, he worked to get his documents, go back to school, and become a pastor on Staten Island. He eventually hopes to become a teacher “to give back whatever I can.”

Érika shared her feelings regarding the importance of her interview with Rodolfo. “I believe it’s important because there are many others standing in [Rodolfo’s] shoes who don’t have the ability to succeed, and he has mastered it. He serves as an example that although you are an immigrant and many might discriminate against you, you are no different than anybody else.”

Rodolfo agreed with Érika, when discussing his take on participating in the project. “I feel privileged because I’m being the voice of many who may never have the chance to voice their opinions.”

Kelyn Potes, a sophomore Spanish major, interviewed her father, Ramiro, who came to the United States from Colombia. She also appreciated the experience because “we get to speak about our experiences and let other people know about them.”

Constance Vélez, a junior who is majoring in Spanish, stressed the social significance of the project for the Hispanic community and beyond. “It’s a great way to show others the way we view each other and how, sometimes, we criticize each other instead of actually being able to understand one another–where we come from, what we do with our lives, and how we grew up, based on what we learned.”

The StoryCorps Historias project at CSI was coordinated by Dr. Sarah Pollack, an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the College. Dr. Pollack reported that “Gabriel Higuera, the Senior Coordinator of the Historias project within StoryCorps contacted CSI Anthropology Professor Ismael García-Colón because his research includes interviewing Hispanic migrant workers…Ismael, in turn, contacted a couple of us who have been involved in the creation of the Certificate in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latina/o Studies (CLACLS). He did not have time to pursue the project, but I was very interested in following through and involving the students from my SPN 455 class (Contemporary Latin American Novel).”

Students in Dr. Pollack’s SPN 455 class have been examining Latin American fiction written during the last 15 years that explores the current state of politics, history, and social issues in the region. Several of these works are based on testimonials and the final novel they read focuses on immigration to the U.S.

In addition, Dr. Pollack noted that “the students in SPN 455 are all of Hispanic background, either the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. They come from Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. The opportunity to record their own stories or to interview someone seemed to complement perfectly the material we were studying. I asked students from the class if either they would be interested in being interviewed or knew someone they would like to interview, whose story otherwise might not get told.”

Now that this initial StoryCorps project has concluded, Dr. Pollack commented that other CSI students have expressed interest in doing interviews. She will be working with StoryCorps to see if the College of Staten Island can become a community partner. She added, “The opportunity to tell one’s story for posterity is empowering. Having a public record of the experiences and lives of Staten Island’s Hispanic population is a way for a more inclusive story of New York City to be told. This is a project that speaks to our diverse backgrounds, struggles, and accomplishments – all things that should be celebrated.”

For more information visit the StoryCorps Historias Website.