bridges at Live! With Kelly

Created by: Ashley Pinney, bridges in NYC Coordinator

Yesterday a group of bridges students and myself went to a taping of Live! With Kelly at ABC Studios. It was really fun being at a live taping of one of the most popular morning shows.

Sarah, Alexandra, and Laura with their tickets!

Kelly Ripa!


President Lambert and VP Piatt Visit bridges

Created by: Ashley Pinney, bridges in NYC Coordinator

It was a nice surprise a couple of weeks ago when Dr. Connie Book called me to tell me that President Lambert would be visiting the bridges in NYC group! The students were so excited that he made time to come visit them and hear all about their job search and new life in NYC.

President Lambert talking with bridges participants

Photo with President Lambert in front of the New School

Mentor Brunch

Created by: Ashley Pinney, bridges in NYC Coordinator

Yesterday the bridges participants and their mentors attended a brunch at Vucciria Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. It was a great way for the recent grads to get to know their mentors and meet other professionals in the city. The mentors are all Elon alumni and work in a variety of industries.


Jordan, Steve, and Deborah

Steve, Dan, Andy

Sarah, Kristen, Alexandra, and Maggy

Brian O’Shea, me, Matthew Masten

We had a great morning!

Performing in the city!

I was very fortunate last night and had the opportunity to sing at the AZA restaurant and live music venue, special thanks to Gerry Geddes for helping set that up. Definitely check it out if you are ever in the city. One misconception I have noticed about the city is how friendly people are and that they will, most often, go out of their way to help out if you ask. In the week that we’ve lived here this has undoubtedly been the situation, whether it was Elon Alumna who reached out or friends of friends.

Last night at the AZA was amazing to say the least. Gabrielle Stravelli, a phenomenal jazz vocalist, was performing with other talented jazz instrumentalists for the duration of the night. It wasn’t until later that the band began calling on other vocalists at the venue to step up and perform. The venue itself was extremely vivacious, with friends chatting over glasses of wine and food, overall a great atmosphere to eat, drink, and hear some fantastic live jazz music.

I performed “Someone to Watch Over Me” by Gershwin, a song I had sung back in high school. Although the beginning was a little choppy (the band played on the spot without rehearsals with the singer), once I got to the main part of the song it was smooth sailing. It was a great setting to have my New York “debut” so to speak. Hopefully the first of many performances if all goes well.

Friday, June 8th: Seminar Day #5- Flavor & Fun

Created by: Ashley Pinney, bridges in NYC Coordinator

It’s crazy how fast a week goes. Friday was the last day of the bridges seminar. We started off the morning in Chelsea at a self-defense class. For two hours, Gabrille, the owner of Female Awareness, gave us great information  about how to avoid being a target and how to defend ourselves if anything should happen. It was a really eye-opening experience and everyone learned a lot.

Next we headed to the West Village for a cooking class at Camaje. Camaje is a quaint Franco-American bistro on MacDougal St. The owner, Abby, taught the bridges group how to make vinaigrette, pan sauce, fish mediterranean, roasted veggies, spinach with garlic and olive oil, and moltern chocolate cake. It was delicious!

After lunch we walked to the Lower East Side to tour the Fouth Arts Block. Director of Operations, Phoebe Stern, talked to us about the public art installations and their importance to the neighborhood.

Cool park

We ended the day at the Top of the Rock in midtown for a great view of the city and to see the sunset!

Rebecca, Aubrey, Me, Steve, and Sarah

Empire State Building

Sunset on the Hudson

Thursday, June 7th: Seminar Day #4- Relocation Information

Created by: Ashley Pinney, bridges in NYC Coordinator

Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island. 5 boroughs, 1 apartment needed. As the saying goes, location, location, location but what do you do if you’re on a tight budget? Shane Neil from Rapid Realty visited the bridges group today to talk about relocating to NYC and the ins and out of renting an apartment. Shane was also joined by two of his associates, Albert Bell and Christopher Caldwell. Shane owns the Rapid Realty office in the West Village, Caldwell works in the West Village office, and Albert owns the Jamaica Queens office.

Shane, Albert, and Caldwell from Rapid Realty

Shane created a comprehesive document that covered how to rent an apartment in NYC. Topics included what to know about working with a broker, how to conduct a targeted real estate search, applying for an apartment, when to negotiate rent, understanding your lease, understanding additional fees i.e. utilties, renters insurance, etc. and life after signing your lease.

Lots of good information

After the information session we walked to the West Village to visit Shane’s office and explore the area.  We ate lunch in Washington Sq. Park and enjoyed the beautiful weather and the park’s fountain.

What a beautiful day!

Wednesday, June 6th: Seminar Day #3- Personal Finance

Created by Ashley Pinney, bridges in NYC Coordinator

The focus of today was personal finance and financial literacy. 2009 alumna Karen Hartshorn spoke to the students on a variety of topics including creating a budget, Roth IRAs, 401Ks, and insurance. Karen did a great job of breaking everything down for students as finance can be a difficult topic to understand.

Karen has a 7 points Personal Finance Checklist that she shared with the group. These are: 1) Set up a budget on MS Excel…write down everything you spend/earn. 2) Sign up for benefits at work 3) Stop getting a large tax refund 4) Contribute to your 401 (k) up to the company match 5) Set up an 8-month emergency fund 6) Savings accounts: consider joining a credit union 7) Contribute to your Roth IRA every year

Karen talking to students about how to create a budget

All students were given a copy of Suze Orman’s book, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke. Karen recommended this book as it is comprehensive read.

After lunch we headed to midtown to eat at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. There, all the wait-staff are aspiring actresses/actors and they sing in between serving their tables. Alexandra was serenaded by our waiter, Kenton. She was such a trooper!

After lunch we headed to 59th and Lexington Ave to Bloomberg where we meet a 2006 alum named Chris Mason. Chris has lived in NYC for 6 years and provided good insight into how much things actually cost.

Chris explaining how he budgets his money

In addition to the great information, we got a tour of Bloomberg and actually took an elevator up with the CEO (although we didn’t know it at the time!) There were a few snack-bar stations where all the food and drinks were free! We took an elevator up to the 29th floor and had a great view of the city below.


One thing about Elon that I really love is their supportive alumni. Today wouldn’t have been possible (really this whole week) if it hadn’t been for alumni like Karen and Chris. They are an asset to the program.

Chris with the group

Tuesday, June 5th: Seminar Day #2- NYC History and Networking

Created by Ashley Pinney, bridges in NYC Coordinator

Establishing context. When you travel or move to a new place it’s always important to establish context. Who was here before me? What happened here before I arrived? What stories do these trees, roads, parks, etc. tell? To help my students understand the history of Manhattan and to learn about their new home, I arranged a walking tour with Eric Ferrara, the Executive Director of the Lower East History Side Project tour. For two hours, students learned about the diverse inhabitants on Manhattan, starting with the Native Americans.

Eric talking about the 5 Points in the Lower East Side

After lunch we went to a delicious Ukranian restaurant named Veselka that Eric recommended. Wow the food was delicious!


In the evening we had our Meet and Greet at the Lucky Strike bowling center. This is the event where Elon in NYC students (an Elon program for sophomore and junior students) and the bridges students met their professional mentor. My fabulous colleague Maggie Mullikin planned the event and it was a huge success!

Sarah talking with her mentor

Each student is placed with a mentor that works in a field or industry that the student is interested in entering. The mentor is usually an Elon alum or a friend of the university.

Steven, me, Maggie, and Trevor at the Meet and Greet