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Bridging Coasts and Building Careers

Syracuse University’s programs in Los Angeles allow students to explore their dreams in the entertainment world.
Students in LA Immersion on a hike in Hollywood.

From learning from industry leaders and immersive field trips to hands-on internships and networking opportunities, Syracuse University's programs in Los Angeles have something to offer all students.

A look at a map would suggest that Syracuse and Los Angeles could hardly be more distant. But for many Syracuse University students, the experience of living and learning in LA—the sunny entertainment capital of the world and an epicenter for culture in every form—is an integral part of their college journey.

Through the University’s Dick Clark Los Angeles Program, students have opportunities to explore the industries that interest them, expand academically and get a taste of life on the West Coast. They learn from industry professionals, gain hands-on experience in internships and connect with a huge and supportive network of accomplished alumni. Syracuse’s study away programs in LA allow students to experience the best of both worlds: a close and supportive community and extraordinary access into the expansive educational and professional opportunities of LA.

Ushered Into the World of an Actor

Honna Santos Lopez standing inside the Latin Theater Company.

Santos Lopez's internship at the Latin Theatre Company helped her gain more insight into the entertainment industry.

Honna Santos Lopez ’24, an acting major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), says the VPA Los Angeles semester has opened worlds of potential she never imagined possible. “From the very beginning, I’ve been making connections with people I’d never meet if I weren’t part of the LA program, ” she says. “I am in contact with so many actors, producers and talent scouts. I was literally just speaking to an actor who is going to be in the new season of White Lotus and the fact that I met them, and now they actually follow me on social—it’s unreal!” Santos Lopez says the LA program has helped her gain confidence. “At first, it was hard for me to put myself out there, but I’ve learned that alumni and other industry leaders really love sharing their wisdom and passing along their insights.”

Santos Lopez, who was drawn to acting for how it can promote understanding and impact people’s lives, says she’s been pushed to new levels in her craft by the courses she’s taking, which she describes as hands-on and jump-right-in. And she’s gained insight into the entertainment industry through internships at McDonald Selznick Associates, a talent agency, and with the Latino Theater Company.

From the very beginning, I’ve been making connections with people I’d never meet if I weren’t part of the LA program.

Honna Santos Lopez ’24
Honna Santos Lopez working at the Latin Theater Co.

During her internship with the Latino Theater Company, Santos Lopez learns how productions are made and about business aspects of theater.

Santos Lopez credits her faculty advisor, VPA professor Ricky Pak, for helping her secure the internship at the theater. “Professor Pak used to work with the Latino Theater Company, and when he heard I was coming to LA, he reached out to them and recommended me,” she says. “They’ve accepted me with open arms—it’s been an incredible internship experience. I feel so grateful for all the support I’ve gotten and all the opportunities that being part of Syracuse has made possible.”

In Training for Sports Journalism

Luke Backman on camera at a basketball game in Los Angeles.

In the Newhouse sports media and communications program, Luke Backman ’25 gains experience as a sports broadcaster for a range of sports in the Los Angeles area.

“Los Angeles has every sport—as much as it’s known for Hollywood, it’s also known for sports,” says Luke Backman ’25, who is majoring in broadcast and digital journalism in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and aspires to a career in sports broadcasting. “I knew this would be a great opportunity.”

One of the most impactful aspects of his Newhouse Los Angeles experience has been the sports production class he is taking with seasoned sports media executive Jeff Proctor. “This has been the greatest class I’ve ever taken. Professor Proctor has connections everywhere—he’s done Clippers games, Lakers games, the Angels, boxing—and he brings in the greatest guests,” Backman says. “This course has given me a whole new perspective on sports production and really helped me understand the industry.”

Luke Backman in class.

In his sports media pitch course, Backman and classmates produce weekly news caps for social media and learn to brand and market themselves.

Backman took an internship with MSM Productions, an Emmy Award-winning production company known for its sports-related storytelling, which complements his classroom learning with professional experience. “MSM Productions is doing the best of the best, the biggest of the biggest. This is an amazing place to be for someone who wants to be in sports media.”

Backman has also appreciated the community fostered in the LA program. “The Los Angeles program does a really great job making everyone feel included. We do events together—we toured Warner Bros.—and we have dinners together. I’ve made so many new friends and it really feels like a family,” he says.

Set up for Success

Sam Clark working at an internship.

Sam Clark ’24 brought the skills and insights he gained during his semesters in LA back to Syracuse, where he is finishing his studies in film and television.

Sam Clark ’24 is studying film and television through the School of Education’s InclusiveU program, an initiative that makes it possible for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to experience college life in fully inclusive settings. For Clark, the LA experience was so rewarding that he extended his stay for two semesters.

Clark relished exploring the city with friends, experiencing movie premieres and insider access at a range of events, and the professional know-how he gained through his internships at Doug Robinson Productions—founded by alumnus Doug Robinson ’85—and the management and production firm The Gotham Group. “The LA program was such an awesome experience. It was really fun hanging out at the AMC at CityWalk, going to the Sony Lot, and meeting so many famous Syracuse alumni. I felt like I was living in a movie! ” he says.

The LA program was such an awesome experience. It was really fun hanging out at the AMC at CityWalk, going to the Sony Lot, and meeting so many famous Syracuse alumni. I felt like I was living in a movie!

Sam Clark ’24
Sam Clark at the AFI Fest.

Clark (center) appreciates the opportunities he had to attend industry events in LA, such as the AFI Fest, organized by the American Film Institute, where he met film directors Alejandra Vasquez (left) and Sam Osborn.

Now back on campus, Clark says his LA experience has shaped how he is finishing his last semester and what he’s looking forward to beyond. He is also building on what he learned through his coursework and professional activities. Clark serves as a video editor with Orange Television Network, a student-run organization, and is working on a short film with peers from a cinematic fraternity. He has secured a prestigious internship with American High, a film production company based in Syracuse, and is looking forward to working in the industry after graduation. “I learned so much out there and made so many connections,” he says. “I hope I can help others who are looking to do the Syracuse program in LA—it’s just so amazing.”

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