Academics are an essential part of the everyday life of a Division III athlete. But it’s not every day that athletes are given the opportunity to enter their surrounding community and take a hands-on approach to their learning.
Albion College baseball pitcher Brett Timmer (Jenison, senior), women’s tennis No. 2 singles player and 2012 all-MIAA first team performer Katie Blumberg (Farmington Hills, sophomore), football kicker Steve Seward (Trenton, sophomore), and women’s soccer midfielder Lindsey Lubanski (Lathrup Village, sophomore) were part of a school project charged with assisting Albion’s local government during the spring semester.
Their class, titled management consulting offered through the economics & management department, consulted with the City of Albion to help revamp and redesign its official web site. The students were mentored by Michael Brown, '87, the interactive director at Full Circle, a marketing and interactive agency in Grand Rapids.
“It’s been a good way to get involved with the city of Albion, and also work in a consulting type of field,” Timmer said. “It exposes us to a different type of thing.”
The class has met with Albion’s mayor, Joe Domingo, along with various other citizens. Their goal was to understand how the new web site could benefit the different stakeholders in the Albion community.
“I think the hands-on learning approach was really good. It’s about being able to communicate with people and learning how to problem solve,” Blumberg said. “In this project we have come across real issues where we have had to find real solutions.”
Members of Albion’s local government and community have been enthusiastic about the class’ participation, and receptive to their ideas.
“They were very impressed that we are willing to put our time into the project, and the quality of ideas we put forth,” Timmer said. “I think we represented Albion College well.”
The class has focused on developing a site-map that improves the organization of the information on Albion’s web site. Students examined the websites of other cities and states throughout the country, in order to develop recommendations for Albion’s new website. Timmer said the new streamlined website could help attract new residents and business.
“I think we are making a big impact, because when you look at Albion’s web site it’s a huge need,” Timmer said. “It can help attract new residents and businesses, which the community needs.”
But this project hasn’t just been helpful to the City of Albion. It has been equally beneficial for the students involved, who have had a chance to apply their liberal arts education directly in the community.
“It’s given me a real world experience and I think that is really valuable,” Blumberg said. “I hear from my friends at other colleges who haven’t had these opportunities, so I feel lucky.”
Furthermore, members of the class were able to become more immersed in the Albion community. For some students, trips outside of the confines of their college campus are few and far between. The project allowed students to experience Albion in a way they hadn’t before.
“As college students, I think sometimes we are in our little world and don’t see what’s in the city surrounding us,” Blumberg said. “We got to learn a lot more about the city. The history of Albion is pretty cool, and a lot of people don’t notice that.”
For Timmer, he saw a side of Albion’s citizens that he didn’t know existed. He realized just how tight-knit the Albion community is.
“The people we met with genuinely care about Albion. The people who live here are vested in the community and want to see it improve,” Timmer said. “This web site is a tool that they can use to do that.”
Dan Myckowiak is co-editor-in-chief and senior sports editor of The Pleiad, Albion's student publication.He is concentrating in the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service.