Do you hate listening to long lectures for hours on end? If so, you’re not alone! I hate listening to hypothetical theories that almost never occur outside the classroom. This is in contrast to the great benefits of Pace’s Media, Communications, & Visual Arts (MCVA) Department, where hands-on engagement and boots-on-the-ground experience are always prioritized. 


I personally believe hands-on learning, or learning by doing is the most engaging way to understand new concepts within a classroom. The best expression of this learning style is housed in Pace’s MCVA Department, which constantly goes above and beyond in providing students hands-on experience in each course. 


A great example of this is David Freeman’s Writing for the Print Media. Previously, his students have written and designed their own music-focused magazines. In the course, each student is assigned a group where they all choose a general topic. The possibilities are endless! Professor Freeman engages in whatever piques his student’s interests. 


While in the course, some of our focuses were fashion in the music industry and how music affects psychology. After selecting a specific subject, each member of the group then wrote two articles apiece to be featured in their magazine. They also included their own photos and designs, piecing the magazine together as if it was going to be published. Prof. Freeman also brought in various guest speakers who advised the students on their article topics. 


In the spring of 2020, Prof. Freeman helped his class take their assignment to the next level. Bringing in a New York jazz band, his students were able to use the band as a source of inspiration for their next piece. David also took advantage of the situation and helped other students work hands-on with the group. Other classes were able to record content of them playing to develop a music video for the jazz band. 


In both Jennifer Magas’ Writing Public Relations Copy (MCA 337) and Writing for Advertising (MCA 1340), she gives students the opportunity to write for the official newsletter of Pace’s MCVA Department run by Entrance One PR Agency, “The Pitch.” The newsletter features events, classes, students, clubs, contests, professor highlights and job and internship opportunities. It also serves as a location for students to get the latest news on what’s going on behind-the-scenes in the department, get first access to event previews/recaps/dates and become more connected to the family-like department atmosphere.


Haven’t heard of Entrance One before? It’s a student-run PR club in the MCVA department that is open to all majors, and it can help students gain real world experience and build their portfolios by working with actual clients on and off campus, running the department’s social media platforms, blog and newsletter, and planning and promoting MCVA events and guest speakers!


Despite the struggles the department has faced the past year due to COVID-19, MCVA’s hands-on learning has continued to strive on Zoom and in-person! Last spring, Chair of the Department, Dr. Paul Ziek, taught a movie remake course in which students had the opportunity to pitch their ideas for a movie remake of their preferred genre. His class has become the foundation for other collaborations within the department, and his students worked with Prof. Jennifer Magas’ Writing Public Relations Copy class and Prof. Louis Guarneri’s Media Production class. Dr. Ziek’s class also worked with Prof. Magas’ PR class to promote their movie during and post-production. The movie production class acted as a client to Prof. Magas’ students.


This experiential learning allows students to get-their-hands-dirty and understand the transition from “why” to “how” in real-world situations. I can say firsthand that MCVA professors are aware of the necessity and benefits of hands-on methods. This style of teaching paired with fundamental course material and concepts points students in the right direction for real success!

About the writer:

Natalie Suoy is Senior Communications and Digital Media Major at Pace University Pleasantville Campus. As of now, she is a marketing and event planning intern for Westchester Magazine. She is also a nanny in Pleasantville and the senator of the Psychology Club.