Susana Castaneira, a junior majoring in Human Resource Management in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU), is no stranger to the challenge of struggling. She readily admits she had “an underprivileged life,” coming to the United States from Cuba as a 12-year-old.
But even Castaneira had things to learn about the life of needy kids—and how community members can help. She was among the students in FIU’s Business Community Leadership course this summer. Course instructor Donald D. Roomes (MBA ’90) gave the assignment for the students, working in teams, to write a research-based proposal for community service projects to help the less fortunate.
The teams presented their proposals to a panel of judges:
- From the Dean’s Alumni Circle: Daniel Alfonso (MSF ’01, BBA ’00), Erbi Blanco-True (MBA ’10), Jorge Lazaro Diaz (BS ’73) and Monique Catoggio (EMBA ’03), director of advancement, alumni and corporate relations in FIU’s business school
- From the Accounting Alumni Council: Gary Opper (MST ’83), AAC president
- From the Chapman Executive Women’s Association: Joanne Mena (EMBA ’10)
“In our research, our team discovered the tremendous need of children who have poor reading skills,” Castaneira said. “We also learned what a great resource business people can be. Everyone is pressed for time but if you feel passionate about helping, you’ll find time.”
“Read to Lead,” a series of service projects to increase reading competency at four local schools developed by Castaneira and her teammates, was judged as the best proposal. The Dean’s Alumni Circle is considering whether the organization can supply funding for the project.
Students learn about the need for service.
“I was incredibly proud of the students’ work,” Roomes said. “Each team identified a powerful need and came up with specific ways that community members can become involved.”
To help the students understand more about philanthropy, Roomes invited Miami business person Jason Squillante (BBA ’00) to the class.
“His account of wanting to start a foundation to help underprivileged students in honor of his mother planted a lot of ideas,” Roomes said. “Many proposals were a direct result his influence.”