Penn State students showcase event-planning skills at AIPAC conference

March 29, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students recently showcased their event-planning skills at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, a large event in Washington, D.C., where multiple presidential candidates and other high-profile political figures offered remarks.

For student Stacey Dangel, who is expected to graduate in May, this was her second opportunity to utilize the skills acquired in the classroom at the AIPAC conference — last year as a student volunteer and this year as a zone manager.

“Working the AIPAC Policy Conference was an eye-opening experience that has provided me with the chance to recognize if event planning is what I want to do as a career,” Dangel said. “By putting in long hours, working with attendees, and thinking on my feet at all times at AIPAC, I realized what it takes to be in the events industry. It provided me with the chance to meet and network with very successful planners, as well as learn from people my own age about their dreams and the programs that their schools offer. It has prepared me for my career more than I ever would have anticipated.”

In all, 15 students studying hospitality management and recreation, park, and tourism management, attended the conference with 20,000 attendees in March under the direction of Jackie Golas, hospitality management instructor and adviser of the student chapters of Professional Convention Management Association and Meeting Professionals International.

“I have worked in this field for almost 20 years and even I have never experienced the management of such a large scale, high-security and high-profile event,” Golas said. “It is possible the students will never have this same opportunity in their lifetime even if they do go into a professional career in meeting management.”

Students attended the event through an invitation from Golas, a manager for the event, and Lisa Gentile, a 1986 Penn State alumna and certified meeting professional who spoke at the School of Hospitality Management’s Alumni in the Classroom event in October.

“Students are always asking alumni guest presenters in the meeting management profession what a day in their life is like,” Golas said. “This opportunity allowed the students to experience just that. Working alongside veteran meeting professionals is incomparable to any classroom experience. The meeting managers were encouraged to mentor the students and take advantage of learning opportunities.”

  • Jackie Golas with students

    Jackie Golas, hospitality management instructor at Penn State, posed with students during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, a large event in Washington, D.C. 

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 29, 2016