The stage is set for Super Bowl 50 – and 11 Niagara University students will be working behind the scenes as the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in the National Football League’s showcase event.

The students, all enrolled in NU’s prestigious College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, set out Feb. 3 for Santa Clara, Calif., to participate in the experiential learning experience of a lifetime. During their six days on the West Coast, the students will get a first-hand look at what goes into organizing one of the world’s largest sporting events.

This marks the seventh year in a row that NU has sent students to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl 50 will be played at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 7. A series of celebratory events and activities lead up to Super Bowl Sunday, many in which the Niagara students will participate. They’ll greet visitors, partake in a media party and try out the NFL Experience, the league’s interactive theme park, among several other activities as requested by organizers.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the sport and recreation management majors will be working with NFL On Location at a sold-out pre-game VIP party adjacent to Levi’s Stadium.

“The trip is a valuable experience for students and will assist them in learning about all aspects of business, especially hospitality and tourism management,” said Dr. Youngsoo Choi, an assistant professor and program coordinator of sport and recreation management who will be one of two NU employees chaperoning the students. “The outstanding education that students receive at Niagara University will help open doors for them, but the experiences we provide for them outside of the classroom will make them extremely attractive to employers after graduation.”

Participating students include:

  • Taylor Bosket (Syracuse, N.Y.)
  • Doran Brandt (Sodus Point, N.Y.)
  • Jennifer Getty (Canastota, N.Y.)
  • Shawn Gillen (Schenectady, N.Y.)
  • Scott Goodwin (Buffalo, N.Y.)
  • Zach Monell (Lockport, N.Y.)
  • Shaun O’Lay (North Tonawanda, N.Y.)
  • Michael Paglicci (Buffalo, N.Y.)
  • Jacqueline Porras (Queens, N.Y.)
  • Justine Pugliese (Lewiston, N.Y.)
  • Nick Wojcicki (West Seneca, N.Y.)

All of the students are sport and recreation management majors. Pugliese is pursuing a master’s in sport management at Niagara.

Interested students undergo a fairly rigorous process to be chosen. Resumes and cover letters are collected and interviews are conducted to determine which students to take. Each student covers approximately $1,000 for airfare and hotel accommodations.

The students will take part in onsite training Feb. 4. They will meet Niagara University alumni during a gathering Saturday in San Francisco at the home of Kevin O’Shea, ’90.

On Sunday, the students will serve in numerous hospitality positions inside Levi’s Stadium where more than 70,000 fans are expected to see the NFL crown a champion. An additional 120 million viewers are projected to watch the game on television.

The NU group will return home Feb. 9, about 36 hours after the Panthers or Broncos hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Onsite service-learning experiences are offered regularly by NU’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. For example, sport management students have recently volunteered during Major League Baseball’s spring training and the NCAA Final Four.

Niagara University offers undergraduate degrees in hotel and restaurant management, sport and recreation management, and tourism and event management. In addition, an M.S. in sport management is also offered to better prepare graduates for careers in the increasingly competitive sport and recreation industry.