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 LaGuardia Community College and WAC Lighting Give Students Hands-on Career Training 

 Students & Faculty visit WAC Lighting's New Facilities 

Long Island City, NY—September 28, 2012— LaGuardia Community College classrooms have always served as labs of innovation for students and faculty alike. This summer the College brought experiential education to a new level outside of the classroom with the help of the LaGuardia Community College Foundation and WAC Lighting. 

In June, Tai Wang, Co-founder and Vice President of WAC Lighting and honorary board member of the LaGuardia Foundation conceived of a project to offer students from different disciplines hands-on experience in their fields of study, challenging them to redesign her company’s logo.

“We are always happy to have a chance to work with students. We enjoy the energy of a young group, especially those from a community college,” Mrs. Wang said of she and her husband Tony Wang. “We do this in China, but we love working with the students at LaGuardia.”

Mrs. Wang collaborated with Angela Wambugu Cobb, Director of Development at LaGuardia, and Development Officer Rob Ferguson, to recruit faculty and students with a focus in marketing and advertising. Assistant Professor Sarah Midkiff from the Humanities Department selected students Jonathan Taveras, Karen He He and Alex Perez, while Nicole Lytle from the Business and Technology Department selected Paribesh Maharjan, Marc Tarigan and Cristina Villar. The team of LaGuardia students, faculty and staff met almost weekly over the months of July and August to create a logo for their client WAC Lighting.

"Tai and Tony Wang have opened the doors of WAC Lighting to give our students a superb opportunity to experience first-hand how to create a logo design, said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College. “The students can take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to a real-world situation. It is just one example of Tai and Tony's deep commitment to higher education and student success."

Founded in 1984 by Mrs. and Mr. Wang, WAC Lighting is an international company that creates sustainable decorative and task lighting. The students visited the company’s brand new facilities in Port Washington in July. Here they met with the company’s executive team, including Mr. and Mrs. Wang, their daughter Shelley Wang, President of the company, and Laurie Canella, Vice President of Human Resources. The students toured executive offices, the call center and the warehouse. 

Afterwards they had a Q & A with the marketing and product design teams in which they were not only able to get better understanding of their client, but were also able to talk one-on-one with professionals in their prospective career fields. With this experience under their belts, the design students came up with a range of possible logo designs, of which the marketing students selected five and created presentations to show WAC for feedback. 

“The collaboration that occurred in a team environment very much mirrored what the students can hope to expect when they enter into their photography, design and/or marketing careers,” says Professor Nicole Lytle. “It also sparked innovation among the instructors, and we are currently brainstorming more ways to connect pedagogy to real world application as an interdepartmental effort.”

The pay-off for all the students’ hard work came on August 31 when they presented their final logo design at the WAC facilities. Tai Wang thanked each student participant with a $200 award, with the exception of Karen He He, whose winning logo earned her a $1,000 award. The innovative project was a win for everyone involved, connecting students with hands on experience, and LaGuardia Community College with the local business community.

“This project allowed faculty and staff to guide students through a true, real-world application of what we teach in the classroom,” says Assistant Professor Sarah Midkiff about the project. “Not only did students from Art, Design, Photography and Business and Technology work together, they did so with an international corporation and a deadline. The students worked incredibly hard, and I am so proud to have been a part of this project.”

LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.

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