It was during her first week of classes at Dominican University of California that transfer student Ellyse Holland ’25 wrote down information she had never received the previous two years at a larger state school – her professor’s cell phone number.
“Here at Dominican I am always being encouraged to get involved and to reach out to my professors if I need anything,” Ellyse says. “I had never had a professor’s personal cell number at my old school, but here that is standard.”
A student in the Barowsky School of Business (BSB), Ellyse says the move to Dominican has given her access to the types of hands-on experiences she had been seeking for a future career in marketing.
“At my last school there were no hands-on experiences. I felt that the professors talked at you, while here they talk with you and really want to get to know you. Everyone here wants to see you succeed.”
A recent project in business professor Dr. Denise Lucy’s Leadership and Teams in Organizations course not only helped Ellyse develop workplace skills, but also led to an internship with Bloom, a local nonprofit that provides clothing, hygiene kits, and accessories for economically disadvantaged men, women, and children residing in Marin.
“I am working with Bloom's social media and website. I'm already using skills I learned in my web design course and many of the skills I have learned in Dr. Lucy’s class,” Ellyse says.
Students in Dr. Lucy’s class are required to complete a leadership practicum with a local business or organization. Presented with a list of clients to choose from, Ellyse joined the team assigned to identify companies that could either donate or sell clothing at a significant discount to Bloom.
The work required the students to put into action the critical skills they had studied in class, including research, communication, and strategic thinking as they worked as a team to identify prospective donor companies, offer recommendations on the best companies to approach, and develop key messages for a short PowerPoint pitch deck to present to these companies.
It was not an easy assignment, Ellyse recalls, as efforts to contact the larger clothing manufacturers and retailers often resulted in silence.
“We would email the big corporations but would not get any response,” she recalls. “I guess so many people contact them for free stuff that they just can’t get back to everyone – and we are just a small group of students.”
So, the students changed tactics, each reaching out to smaller companies in and around Marin County. Almost immediately after contacting a company Ellyse had identified as a prospect, she received an enthusiastic reply. “I found a clothing company based in Mill Valley and sent them an email. I actually got a response within 20 minutes and they said they would like to donate merchandise.”
Ellyse immediately put her supervisor, Bloom’s bilingual program coordinator, Emily Elder, in touch with the Mill Valley company, which develops custom apparel, including festival and corporate merchandise. A week later Ellyse and Emily headed to Mill Valley to pick up six large boxes of donated t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets.
“They were so enthusiastic and happy to help us. They gave us six large boxes – the boxes filled up my car – full of sweatshirts, t-shirts, and jackets,” she recalls. “They even gave us some extra swag – tote bags, blankets, and hats. They were so generous.”
Ellyse was not the only student on the Bloom team to land a big donation. Javier Acosta secured a donation of 1,000 pairs of socks from a San Francisco wholesaler. Many of the socks are novelty socks, which Bloom is both distributing to clients and selling during the holiday season.
A graduate of San Mateo’s Carlmont High School, Ellyse had never visited Marin County before visiting Dominican at the recommendation of her aunt.
“I told my aunt that I wanted to transfer to a smaller school and a school that I could become passionate about, and she told me to look at Dominican – which is where she went to school,” Ellyse recalls. “So I visited campus and really liked it – I felt right away that Dominican would be a good place for me.”
The move to Dominican was a good fit, and the hands-on work began almost immediately. Her first semester, Ellyse completed a service-learning placement at San Rafael’s Bahia Vista Elementary school, where she assisted in a classroom and worked one-on-one with Spanish speaking students needing assistance with reading and writing in English.
“I am glad that I got to do this – it was really fulfilling. There’s a strong sense of community at that school – and the families are underserved for sure. But I could tell that the teachers work really hard and I was glad I could do something to help them.”
The more Ellyse became part of the Barowsky School of Business community, the more she appreciated the networking opportunities offered to all business students.
“What Dominican is doing is really valuable by encouraging students to network. That’s a good part of the program in the business school and I had never experienced networking before. I’d never even heard anyone talk about how you need to network by reaching out to someone and going to lunch or coffee.”
She particularly enjoys attending the BSB’s Mizel Executive Forum, which each week brings to campus local business executives and entrepreneurs.
“I have been able to connect with many of the speakers on LinkedIn," Ellyse says. "I’ve come to really appreciate the networking part of the business school curriculum.”
However, the most profound impact Dominican has had on Ellyse is reinforcing her self-confidence.
“I was shy at first when I came to Dominican – I’m an introverted person – and this school has really opened me up to new experiences and opportunities. It’s been a really good move for me.”
Pictured: Ellyse (left) and Emily Elder, Bloom's bilingual program coordinator.