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HomeBoontonBoonton's Kolesnikova Gains Experience with Local Businesses through Alvernia's O'Pake Fellows Program

Boonton’s Kolesnikova Gains Experience with Local Businesses through Alvernia’s O’Pake Fellows Program

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BOONTON — Aleksandra Kolesnikova is one of 21 O’Pake Fellows who graduated as members of Alvernia University’s Class of 2024 and presented a final project regarding the experiential learning opportunities and professional development gleaned from the O’Pake Fellows Program. The O’Pake Fellows Program provides undergraduate and graduate students with hands-on, distinctive experiential learning opportunities. Students of high academic standing from diverse majors and backgrounds work directly with regional entrepreneurs, small business owners, faculty researchers, and industry leaders.

In alignment with Alvernia’s core value of contemplation, O’Pake Graduate Assistant of Student Services Brianna Schnieder took the lead on facilitating the final reflection project with the guidance of Executive Director of Student & Client Services Michelle Conway, MBA, and Student Experiential Learning Specialist Max Horn, MBA.

“We often describe the fellow experience as a metamorphosis; this project aims to bring their experience full circle as fellows transition from one stage to the next,” said Schneider. “We hope they can recognize their impact on the community around them while also celebrating their own achievements, such as the skills and knowledge they leave the program with. Moving forward, this comprehensive project will help fellows track their impact on the businesses they work with since they might work with up to 40 businesses if they start as first-year students in the program.”

Graduating Fellows like Kolesnikova were able to present highlights and deliverables from their experience, including work they have done for local business owners in and beyond Berks and Schuylkill counties, the training they have engaged in, connections they have made through networking and skills they have built along the way for the resume.

“Being a part of the O’Pake Institute has shaped my professional career immensely,” said Graduate Assistant of Community Based Campuses, John (Jack) Cossa ’23 MBA ’24, when reflecting on his experience working with small businesses surrounding Alvernia’s Pottsville CollegeTowne. “I have had amazing opportunities throughout my time at O’Pake to be a part of high-level projects helping clients achieve their goals to elevate their business. Without O’Pake, I would not be the young, aspiring professional I am. The experiential learning you receive through O’Pake is the first class I recommend to any professional looking to enhance their professional experience.”

The O’Pake Fellows Program encourages students like Kolesnikova to engage in applied research, scholarly travel, and other personal and professional training activities to enhance their experience. Undergraduate Fellows can also work with up to 3-5 clients a semester and are exposed to projects that fulfill various needs of businesses in the community.

“Through the various clients I’ve worked with, I’ve loved learning about and collaborating with different kinds of personalities, businesses, and passions. It has allowed me to take note of the various challenges and approaches that exist in the media/marketing space and the importance of being strategic and adaptable.” After spending two years working with O’Pake, Maldonado also shares that incoming freshman to the O’Pake Institute should “always be open to new opportunities and challenges, as they will help you grow both personally and professionally.”

Alvernia University is a Catholic comprehensive university with a liberal arts foundation founded by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in 1958. The university serves over 3,000 students in Reading, Pottsville, and Philadelphia with a unique blend of rigorous liberal arts education, strong technical training in many high-demand majors, ever-expanding experiential learning opportunities through study abroad and internship experiences, and community engagement through its Franciscan-based community service model.

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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