Stockton University students shape the future of Atlantic City

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Stockton University students shape the future of Atlantic City
A new program successfully tapped 131 undergraduate students to fill seasonal roles with the city's largest employers.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- It started out as a modest idea. Stockton University would connect a few dozen students with a few of Atlantic City's largest employers to fill some of the roughly 3,000 seasonal job openings this summer.

But that was an underestimation.

The school's inaugural "Live, Work, and Learn" program attracted a whopping 700 student applications and 12 business partners ranging from hotels, casinos, and a hospital.

The collaboration came from all sides. The business would pay for the student's housing while the school covered the cost of one four-credit class. Then, the students would fill valuable job roles and get paid experience for it.

20-year-old Greg Copeland secured one of the 148 slots allotted for the summer experience.

"I don't really have a concrete home to go back to and they were offering a class, a job, you get to stay here, and you get to work," he said. "And that's like, everything I needed, so it's like, I took it as soon as I seen it."

Copeland got interviewed by Borgata and got hired as a food runner at the pool. But his success didn't stop there.

At the conclusion of his summer experience, Copeland was hired to fill an additional role on the overnight shift at the Premier Nightclub.

"I think that job teaches you patience, you know, just being able to be composed in certain situations," he said. "So, then it will help me in the future because I want to be a guidance counselor."

It was a two-way street for the college student, who gained valuable experience while filling a void in the city's tourism economy. He was one of roughly 30 students to get re-hired and continue to work in the industry.

The program was also appreciated by Atlantic City entities such as Copeland's employer, Borgata.

"Borgata values the partnership with Stockton University and is excited to be an active participant in Stockton's Live, Work, and Learn Program," said Vice President of Human Resources Rick Berninger in an email. "Our team members are a vital component of what we do, and who we are. Investment in our workforce continues to be a top priority. "

Fueling that workforce with students was a creative way for Stockton University to fulfill its role as an Anchor Institution for the state of New Jersey.

"Particularly in the summer, which is the busiest time, the entities in Atlantic City need additional help, so to speak," said Stockton University President, Dr. Harvey Kesselman. "Not just the casinos, but the hospitals, some of the other hotels."

Dr. Kesselman said that all students, not just the hospitality and tourism students, became valuable assets to the city. He is proud that today's generation is shaping the city where Stockton continues to expand its presence.

"I'm not only hopeful about the future of Atlantic City," he said. "I am absolutely confident that Atlantic City is on the rise again."

Dr. Kesselman hopes that next year's Live, Work, and Learn program will continue to expand and make room for even more students and business partners.

Locals and tourists alike can see that expectation materialized in the new construction happening on the Atlantic City campus. 1,000 residential students are expected to occupy the vicinity surrounding O'Donnell Memorial Park by May 2023.

To learn more about Stockton University programs, visit their website.

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