Family History Inspires International Experience

When Joshua Rudley, a senior from York, came to Ship, he fully immersed himself in his education, declaring majors in marketing and management, with a concentration in entrepreneurship. Rudley also is president and founder of two clubs, Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) and Toastmasters, is president of the Jewish Student Organization, and is vice president of Student Alumni Ambassadors.  

Rudley’s early education was heavily influenced by his Jewish heritage and still plays a part in his academics at Shippensburg. Just out of high school at nineteen years old, Rudley traveled to Israel for the first time on the Taglit-Birthright, a free ten-day trip for young members of the Jewish community who have never been to Israel. The Taglit-Birthright trip is meant to expose young people to the Jewish culture in Israel by providing educational experiences during their visit. The trip became even more important to Rudley and his family after his grandmother was contacted by her sister whom she had been separated from during the Holocaust. “The whole trip was a life-changing experience. I got to meet another part of my family I had never met before, and that I didn’t know I had for most of my life.”

After visiting Israel with his family, Rudley became inspired to travel there to study. Being the first student at Shippensburg to study at a university in Israel, he had to do some research. “I spoke to Mary Burnett in the International Programs office, who was really helpful in finding the university where I studied,” he said. At the University of Haifa in Northern Israel, Rudley spent five months studying general education courses like social and political sciences, humanities, and history.

“It was cool to learn from an international perspective. There were more than 800 international students enrolled at the school,” he said. “I got to do some pretty awesome things in Israel, but the most memorable has to be the marketing video competition in which we won first place.”

For the project, Rudley partnered with another student who had experience in filmmaking to create a promotional video for the University of Haifa. “This is where my marketing skills came into action. We ended up making a video with short clips of ten to fifteen students who spoke different languages and had each say a segment in their language promoting the university. By doing this, we hoped to promote the peace and diversity that Haifa stands for so students feel safe traveling to the Middle East to attend school.” 

Rudley wanted to do more during his study abroad and decided to take an internship, as well. He was given the chance to create one that provided valuable marketing experience. He researched what colleges around the world might be interested in sending their students to University of Haifa, then sent those institutions information and literature to promote Haifa’s international program to their students.      

On weekends, he loved hanging out with his friends, many of whom were Israeli. “My roommate and I became such good friends that he would take me to his family’s home some weekends, and I got delicious home cooked meals.” 

Traveling around the country took up a lot of his time as well. “The country is only as big as New Jersey, so you can take a bus anywhere for the day. But if you have grocery shopping to do for the week, better do it before Sunday, because most stores close on Sundays.” 

While abroad, Rudley also had the chance to take an intensive language course in Hebrew, a language that he was already familiar with from his studies at Hebrew School. He believes this will help him in his future business endeavors, since the United States and Israel have many business ties. In fact, he has his own business ties to the country. He runs a small business where he buys jewelry from an Israeli Kibbutz, which is similar to a factory, and sells that jewelry twice a year in American markets. Someday, he expects to own a larger business in the United States and continue visiting Israel. 

Rudley has been very involved with the John L. Grove College of Business. DECA, which he started his freshman year, was established to help students like himself who are interested in learning about entrepreneurship while at Shippensburg. He describes it as “the club that runs like a business.” The club is thriving and has more than forty members. They have two local clients that pay DECA to run their social media sites, websites, and revamp the way they advertise their businesses. He hopes to be the first club to create its own internship, which he envisions would pay students to run DECA’s business operations during the summer.