OHIO-in-LA program celebrates milestone: 10 years of experiential learning in entertainment

Ohio University students, alumni and faculty will gather in Los Angeles on October 26 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a unique study away program called OHIO-in-LA.

Students earn classroom credit in Los Angeles, produce short films and immerse themselves in the entertainment industry through internships. OHIO-in-LA is led by Professor Roger Cooper in the School of Media Arts and Studies. Cooper highlights key points as the program reaches its 10-year milestone:

  • 413 Ohio University students have participated in the OHIO-in-LA program in 10 years, including the current group in Los Angeles
  • Ohio University has built a strong network of alumni in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and beyond
  • OHIO-in-LA is one of a broad range of experience-study options available to students in the Scripps College of Communication

The current OHIO-in-LA session started on August 27 and ends December 9.

The power of networking

Mondragon interviews Justin Chatwin of Showtime's "Shameless."
OHIO-in-LA intern Taylor Mondragon interviews actor Justin Chatwin at the 25th annual Dances with Films opening night in Los Angeles, June 9, 2022.

After her junior year, journalism student Taylor Mondragon, BSJ ’23, participated in OHIO-in-LA, working three internships in the summer of 2022.

“I had no idea where I wanted to be post-graduation until I got to experience Los Angeles. After living there and seeing all the opportunities available and the amount of alumni here, I knew it was the perfect place for me to be,” Mondragon said.

Mondragon graduated in May 2023 from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism with experience at WOUB Public Media and on Ohio University’s award-winning speech and debate team coached by Jennifer Talbert in the School of Communication Studies.

How did she break into the highly competitive Hollywood job market? Mondragon found a job opening through 2022 OHIO-in-LA classmate Fiona Lyngstad-Hughes, BSC ’23, a communication studies student who had interned in Los Angeles with a company called MagicLinks, a marketplace for video influencers.

This August, Mondragon moved to Los Angeles to work for MagicLinks as a campaign coordinator. Her manager is Ohio University alumna Taylor McNutt, BSC ’18.

“My Ohio University connections have been a huge help while moving across the country and starting my new life here,” said Mondragon.

During school and after graduation, Mondragon knew she could rely on Professor Cooper for guidance and support about navigating the job market, Los Angeles, and the entertainment industry.

Alumni connections

David Collins talks with students in Los Angeles in summer 2023
David Collins talks with students in Los Angeles in summer 2023.

A big part of networking and instruction at the OHIO-in-LA program involves alumni who meet with and mentor students, such as David Collins, BSC ’89.

Collins co-founded Scout Productions in 1994, producing film, documentary and TV projects. Eight-time Emmy winner Collins was the morning Undergraduate Commencement speaker at Ohio University on May 6, 2023, wearing a WOUB sash to honor his training on campus.

“Our Bobcat alumni network is phenomenal, in terms of being accessible and helpful,” said Cooper. “An essential fabric of the OHIO-in-LA program is for participants to meet with as many successful professionals as possible. The insights and example of successful professionals give students confidence that they can make their own dreams and ambitions come true.”

Participants in OHIO-in-LA are matched with successful alumni (“Big Sibs”), pairing their professional focus. Students tour Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, and Sony studios and attend taping of The Voice, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Talk — running into alumni along the way.

These tours are entertaining and instructional. “We spend a day at Sony Pictures including meeting the production executive who explains the business of production and discusses production of our short films in Los Angeles,” Cooper said.

Menu of experiential learning opportunities

The 10-year-old OHIO-in-LA reflects the experiential learning philosophy at the Scripps College of Communication.

During upcoming winter break, School of Media Arts and Studies Director Josh Antonuccio, BSC ’96, M.Ed. ’17, facilitates Music Production masterclasses for students with leading producers in Brooklyn, Chicago and Providence. In March, Antonuccio takes students to South By Southwest (SXSW) Conference and festivals in Austin.

Scripps-in-DC combines academic credits with internships at congressional offices, news outlets, advocacy groups and more.

Off-campus study opportunities complement a wide range of experiential learning on campus including student-run Brick City Records, Rough Cut Collective, WOUB, The Post, The New Political, Backdrop Magazine, Thread Magazine, Variant Magazine and sports media.

Ohio University’s annual Music Industry Summit — featuring keynote presentation and performance by four-time Grammy award-winner Jason Isbell on April 9 and 10, 2024 — is supported by students honing skills in content creation, video, photography, social media, and event management.

October 25, 2023
Ken Klein