Business in Society projects spur commitment to community engagement.

It all adds up.

One program: the Professional BBA in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU). Offered in two versions: Sunrise and Weekend. With a course called Business in Society, required for a management major, taught by Wendy Gelman in PBBA Sunrise and Jose Rocha in PBBA Weekend. One assignment: a community engagement project. Eight group efforts that will yield short- and long-term effects.

What it added up to for PBBA Sunrise student Vanessa Vazquez, coordinator of administrative services, Graham Center, was a new sense of hope about dealing with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a little-known disease her son has.

Vanessa Vasquez with nephew and son
Vanessa Vazquez with nephew Daniel and son, Max Lucca

“Our primary goal was to increase awareness so more people will be diagnosed and not have to go through what families currently face,” she said. “When my three and a half year old son says, ‘Mom, I love you,’ it’s huge. I want other families to experience progress like this.”

As an example of the synergy that characterizes the PBBA program, Vazquez’s classmate, George Abay, customer service/sales order administrator, Jarden Consumer Solutions Corporation, urged the group to apply for one of the company’s community grants, giving them the added experience of preparing a grant application.

Projects show creativity.

Among the other projects were the creation of an app for the Heart Association featuring a walking map of the Modesto A. Maidique Campus showing the location of all defibrillators plus nutrition information from the restaurants on campus; a bike-a-thon to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis research; and presentations to bring attention to volunteer opportunities with Tow to Go, a partnership between Budweiser and AAA; Kidz Empowerment Services; and the Community Partnership for Homeless, Inc.

TSC Walk
The 3rd Annual Miami Step Forward to Cure TSC 5K Walk took place on October 22, 2011 at Tropical Park. Students in the PBBA Weekend program raised $2,080.00 with the funds going to the translation of essential educational material from English to Spanish to benefit Hispanic TSC families, their caregivers and teachers.

“The students are making a difference, which is what it’s all about,” said Gelman, who has taught the course since its inception.

Rocha, a five-year veteran of teaching the course, was impressed by what the students accomplished and by witnessing how “for the first time, many of them realized they can do something that has a positive impact. They also realize how lucky they are.”



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