The University of St. Thomas

Never underestimate your individual ability to change the world

We often grow up with the dream of changing the world, however as we go through life we fall in to the daily grind of work, school, family and a busy social life. Soon this dream fades, as our schedules fill up it slips further away until it seems unattainable.  However I am writing this post to show you this dream is not unattainable. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that I sat down with a team of 14 ordinary Business 200 students. Tonight those same 14 students not only rekindled that hope in themselves and many others but they achieved that dream and I hope this post will encourage you to do the same.

We just wrapped up our 13th annual Listening House Silent Auction and I write to you after a 15 hour day of nonstop stress, struggles and ultimately success. I am exhausted, relieved and mainly in awe of our individual ability to change the world. Listening House is an amazing local organization. They are a homeless shelter in downtown Saint Paul across from the Excel Energy Center. In 1983 they were founded by Patty Dease (some of you may recognize her as Father Dease’s sister) on the basic principle that everyone, no matter what race, class, or stage of life they are in need a place to call their home and  need to be felt they are heard. This is the principle they have successfully continued to operate and the principle we support with this auction.

Over the last three years I have had the pleasure of helping with this event and every year I find myself a little more inspired than the last. As stated earlier just a few short months ago 14 students, Dr. Gorski, and I sat down in a room. We promised we would help these students meet their Business 200 requirement of 40 hours of service to the community if they promised to help us put on this event.  We expected them to plan, market, budget, and solicit over 30,000 dollars in donations, most of them looked at us as if we were crazy.

Many of them, much like myself, were extremely busy balancing a heavy course load, a busy social life and multiple jobs and/or internships. Most of them had no fundraising experience or a clue what Listening House was or what they did.  However after a few motivating speeches, a video or two and a short visit to Listening House they put the skills they and many others have learned at the Opus College of Business to use and they rose to the occasion.  Over the next few months they met with officials on campus, sought help from various family members, friends, professors, local businesses and generous individuals. They not only successfully planned, marketed, budgeted, and solicited enough donations to put on this event but did so in a manner that will keep guests coming back year and year again.

If you were to ask any of them at the beginning of this auction if they thought they could raise enough money to help keep hundreds of homeless individuals off the streets they more than likely would have said no. However at 11:00 p.m. tonight as we sat huddled around a sheet of paper, adding donations, ticket sales, auction revenue and subtracting our costs it hit us that is exactly what we had done. We, a group of 14 average everyday students had raised roughly 30, 000 dollars. It was hard to comprehend. This was enough money to give hundreds of underserved and disadvantaged individuals who we had never met a place to call home. Sure we may have not solved the issue of world hunger or cured cancer but we had changed the world for these individuals.

So what am I getting to through all this rambling? Although it may seem that goal is long gone and nothing but a piece of foolish childhood ambition. That dream is far from dead. If 14 average everyday students can achieve that goal you can too and from the bottom of my heart I want to encourage you to chase that dream. You will find with a defined goal, the right amount, organization, a strong team spirit and a few skills you have picked up along the way you can make a significant difference in the world.

 

By: Justin Lind, BUSN200 Coordinator

Published on: Monday, May 13th, 2013

Dare to Dream

One month. It seems surreal to think that all we have ever known in essence is gone. For the majority of our life we all have always anticipated another year of school, another year of school lunches and another year of waiting to figure it all out. Yet I have come to realize that the painful, yet beautiful truth of it all is that we will never have it all figured out.

Everyone says that this is completely terrifying, but in some strange way it is comforting, beautiful, and yet poetic. St. Thomas for many of us has been this safety net of familiarity- it was often an expectation for us to go to school, to graduate with a degree and to get a job. Yet, the thing that scares me the most is that I am going to lose all my friends. Not in the sense that we’re all moving on and leaving our bubble we have called home for 4 years, but that I am going to lose my friends in who they are. Expectations are the driving force for this problem that encourages security over passion and the notorious over the unknown. We fear what each other will think. We fear our parents. We fear society.

I think it scares to see my friends- so creative, inspiring and compassionate drift away. It makes me dwell on the moments where we used stay up late where we cared so little, yet cared so much. The days we talked about what we wanted from the world and weren’t afraid to say it aloud. The walks in the quad where you gave that unforgettable smile to a stranger- just because it was sunny.

I think that I’m hard on people because I realize how young we all really are. I fear we are losing all these inspiring, compassionate and amazing 20-some year-olds that have the potential to fret the unpaved path. To follow a dream, to open a business or work at a non-profit. I want to see our graduating class inspire the next St. Thomas graduating classes to come and to show them that it’s okay to be unconventional. To give them that soft gaze that everything is going to be alright.

The reality of it all is that it’s going to be alright. Life has this astounding way of working itself out with or without us walking by its side. All I know is that I don’t want to let my compassionate 23-year old spirit away- I don’t want ordinary. I know that I am not alone in these feelings and I can feel it in my soul. So I encourage all of us to not fret the days to come. I encourage us to let those youthful spirits continue once we graduate and continue to be passionate about whatever drives you.

Travel the world. Open that business. Find the person of your dreams. Dare to be great. Expect extraordinary- and have the courage to seek this out.

By: Katlin Nordyke, BUSN200 Coordinator

Published on: Monday, April 29th, 2013

Tutoring

Tutoring middle schoolers – a surprisingly daunting task

And what did I get out of this experience you may ask?

The goal of the program was simple: to help the kids succeed

And if I was to do this there were a couple of skills I’d need.

Like the ability to make a 50-minute study plan

It must leave the students confident and help them understand.

I felt myself get better at this, as the time went by.

One student even told me her grades had never been so high.

While working with the students, communication was key.

I had to learn to connect with them despite diversity.

I realized I was succeeding when they began to open up

Telling me about their families, their dreams for growing up.

I felt them start to trust me and give me their respect.

This made tutoring struggling students more fun than you’d expect.

I benefitted the students by offering my help

But I got a lot out of this experience as well.

I learned that good communication holds great power

The more mine improved, the more got done in just an hour.

Every student was different, so I adjusted to each

But I learned that my calling most likely isn’t to teach.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time serving.

I liked giving time and attention to those deserving.

The coordinator told me my help was greatly needed.

For a one-on-one program, the number of tutors was far exceeded.

I leave my time at Murray far better in many ways

With a great deal to consider for my future working days.

I like the way serving others made me feel.

In a world obsessed with money, being happy is a bigger deal.

 

By Hilary Palmer, BUSN200 Student

Published on: Friday, April 5th, 2013

Women’s History Month

As we approach the middle of the semester, thoughts are often torn between two things. Mid-terms and spring break. Most dread the first and can’t wait for the second; however, both signify another step towards graduation and (hopefully) starting a new career.  In the far nearer future, the snow begins to melt and we start to think of warm days filled with sunshine, barbeque, and sports.

Since March is Women’s History Month, I thought a little history would be good to reflect upon. This year marks 41 years since Title IX was signed into law under the Equal Opportunity in Education Act, which states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…” For those unfamiliar with what this means, it was the first real step to putting women’s collegiate sports on the map. This meant that not only would women’s sports get similar funding for uniforms and equipment like men’s sports, more importantly it meant scholarships.

While this might not seem like a big deal to some, it certainly has been for others. I am reminded of Lolo Jones, the Olympic Hurdler, who grew up in Des Moines Iowa, who was routinely homeless as her mother tried to provide for her and her four siblings. In an interview with her I recently saw, she said that by the time she was 12, she was a professional shoplifter. Not because she wanted attention or luxury, but because she simply wanted to stop being hungry. In high school she excelled at Track and Field, she was able to attend LSU on a Track & Field Scholarship and finally get out of poverty. The same can be said many times over, for both men and women.

So join us, if you will, in celebrating Women’s history month and women’s sports! Title IX has helped many prominent figures attain their dreams and given another way to break the cycle of poverty.

 

By Tim Potter, BUSN200 Student Facilitator

Published on: Monday, March 18th, 2013

Making the Time

Being a senior most of us are concerned with finding the right job, making the most of senior year, and spending time with friends, but what about giving back to our community? Some seniors from spring 2013 BUSN200 courses have experienced this during their last few months. As senior Robert Vannelli states well:

“By doing this program right before graduation and the “real world” I think I will learn some valuable lessons at an important time in my life.  I am very excited for this opportunity to learn more about service and more about myself as a person.”

We are always going to be busy, especially when we first begin our careers; it is easy to push giving back to our communities to the back of our minds thinking there are “more important” things going on. Sometimes students also don’t realize that service learning can directly relate to your career goals. Senior, Daniel Brady said:

 “I think having the opportunity to not only work with a nonprofit but also the opportunity of getting real world experience in a field related to your major is something that many students take for granted. Serving the community through the BUSN200 program allows students the chance to expand their experience and add to their resumes.”

I am going to leave you with this thought; how can you make the most of your BUSN200 requirement?

Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.” –Mission of the University of St. Thomas

 

By Andrea Paetznick, BUSN200 Student Coordinator

Published on: Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The BUSN200 Path

As semester Fall 2012 is close to reaching the end of its road, many Busn200 students are about to complete their service hours. This is a good time to look back at what you have accomplished and revise what you are still looking to gain out of your service.

Students who come to Busn200 carry a variety of learning objectives and possess different skills and experiences. Even attitudes vary among them: some start Busn200 with excitement and enthusiasm, while others begin doing it only with the aim of fulfilling another requirement. With large diversity in personal skills, majors, goals, or even hobbies, I believe every single student has walked a very unique path. That path was not paved merely by the Busn200 Center or by a supervisor at a non-profit, but the student themselves. Busn200 is unique among all business courses to the extent that it provides a student the opportunity not only to learn or improve a certain set of knowledge, skills and attitudes, but also to discover his or her own self. When one realizes that in this course he himself decides what to learn and how to learn them, along his service will he recognize that the process is also about exploring himself: defining what he possess and what not, knowing what he wants, understanding his characters, affirming his values, etc. Last fall, a student named Matthew Hartmann inspired me by his experience with Busn200. Through discussion with him at class and reading his journals, I gained a new perspective on the nature and outcomes of Busn200. Following is one of his journals where he talks about his accomplishments by the end of his service:

I have accomplished, in some way, all of my learning objectives. I have gained so much more beyond my learning objectives as well, and that is what has brought me to conclude that what I originally set out to accomplish in my service hours was not an unrealistic goal of mine. It was easily met, and it has taught me that through laying the expectations out before the journey begins, it makes that much easier to accomplish them in the end. I am finding myself mush more satisfied than I thought I would be after completing my business 200 requirement, and even on that it’s not a requirement; it should be called an opportunity. But, I now look at myself as a more defined, better-rounded business professional. I have even incorporated some of my new knowledge and ideas into my current job. Right now I am seeing positive returns from this, and I hope that it continues. This all boils down to one point—Volunteering is a way to learn about what you are missing in other work environments. This means you begin to appreciate everything and everyone working around you, there is no taking a selfish route, but it is necessary to be able to adapt to new situations as to better yourself and your organization. Trying to say what I have learned about myself is fairly easy after going through Business 200. The things I notice the most about myself is the way I approach every situation now. I no longer am timid, I am not stressed, but rather I am more relaxed and “with the flow.” This makes, not only my work life, but also my personal life that much more stress free. I am finding things to be more humbling and less burdensome. I like the new me. Now, I am saying I am this newly renovated Matt Hartmann, but on a internal, emotional level I am seeing that I am handling the different aspects of day to day life very different than what I normally would have. I am sure as the main driver of this change, and I wish one day I will be able to trace it back to Value Village. 

Today’s Society is filled with business professionals with blinders on, forcing them to focus on one thing: money. This is the sad reality that I was once directed towards. I was told to get a good paying job, support a family, do well in my career, and earning myself and my organization a lot of money. That was the painted picture I had for ‘success.’ I think this painting should be repainted. Repainted to show the smiles, the laughs, and the hard working physical labor that goes into so many non-profits organizations in order to make them a success. It is not about the money. It’s about the service… We are so focused on the issue of money that we are starting to lose sight of the true driver of the money, and that is the people on the other end of our business. Without them, there is no money, so I think it is about trying to make a difference in their lives, and stop being so absent minded to the needs of others. The picture should so an all around self-confident business professional who holds themselves with poise, all while supporting their community, not just their wallet.

 

By Bob Ta, BUSN200 Facilitator

Published on: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Start Thanksgiving off right!

It’s that time of year again, spending time with family and friends around the dining room table, and being thankful for all that you have. Thanksgiving can also be a very hard time for individuals in need and those that can’t seem to find a lot to be thankful for this year. It seems hard to imagine celebrating Thanksgiving without a turkey, pie, and friends. The holiday season is also a very busy time of year for food drives and food shelves.

“Thanksgiving and the upcoming winter holidays are a time to reflect and be thankful for all that we have. The holidays also bring generous thoughts of volunteering and a desire to give back as we give thanks.” –Greater Twin Cities United Way

If you have some spare time the morning of Thanksgiving before you cut the turkey, start off your morning right by giving back with organizations around Minnesota. There are many options available to give back to the community with this holiday season. A few examples are the Turkey Trot, Salvation Army, Feed My Starving Children, Walk to End Hunger and many more! Walk to End Hunger is a family-friendly 5K the morning of Thanksgiving at Mall of America. You don’t always have to leave your home to give back, have everyone bring donations to your holiday gatherings for food drives around the Twin Cities.

 

Before you spend time with your friends and family this holiday season, consider all the opportunities to spend time with others while giving back.

Have a fun and safe Turkey Day!

 

By: Andrea Paetznick, BUSN200 Student Facilitator

Published on: Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

The Best Way

“I was expecting an outdoor activity that had clear objectives such as “plant trees in this park, install benches for the park, pick up litter, etc.” I’m all for helping out, but when we are moving compost “manure” from one site to another I see no real objective. Yeah I wheel-barreled the compost a 1Ž4 mile down the road, for what?” – Anonymous BUSN200 Student Journal Post

 
Sometimes, I get journal entries from students that are frustrated with their service site. Many outline concerns such as those above. Believe it or not, all you frustrated volunteers out there; I can understand your vexation. I am also very much a person who strives for accomplishment. Last January I took a class and did service in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. We spent days landscaping for a newly-built women’s center, picking up small boulders from one side of the village and carrying them to the other. Those things were heavy. Literally moving a pile of rocks to a different place for hours in the hot sun. Like you, I couldn’t help but feel like what we were doing wasn’t really making an impact, besides deepening the blisters on my fingers and permanently dirtying my t-shirts. As a group we discussed our service and talked about why they couldn’t just use a wheelbarrow, etc. It was challenging to follow the direction of the older Mayan man whom we thought would benefit from better technology or better methods.

Taking direction from someone else – especially someone of a different culture – is difficult. It’s hard to see the point of physical labor when you don’t understand the big picture or what is really being helped. At a certain point, I learned to stop, humble myself, and accept the experience. As a culture, I think Americans are designed to think that we always know “the best way.” In international service and business, this may not always be the case.

For example, on the days we carried the boulders, we’d have to walk through four rows of tin-roofed huts in the village on the outskirts of San Lucas, Tolimán. During my service I got a glimpse of the daily life of these people and how poorly they lived. There was a swarm of flies at every turn. That was gross. Children were dirty and ran around with the chickens. Some couldn’t afford to go to school and stayed home to help pick coffee to support their family. Once, I passed a hut that had Coldplay’s song “Fix You” playing aloud on the radio. In that moment, things were put into perspective. Even though it was seemingly miserable, pointless work at the time, carrying those rocks was probably one of the most poignant experiences I had in Guatemala. Perhaps I got more benefit from the service of moving those rocks than the people themselves, but I can only hope that they gained something from our efforts and were thankful for our presence.

 

By: Emily Seitz, BUSN200 Student Facilitator

Published on: Monday, November 12th, 2012

What does service do for you?

I often find myself pondering the many facets of life and their ambiguity. What I mean by that is you never really know what life will throw at you and when it will be thrown. I find myself constantly trying to control certain facets of my existence such as things at work or school or even in my personal life which I really have no control over to start with. This craving to control these uncontrollable factors often causes stress and a standard of living that is hard to live up to. So I find myself at the end of the week mentally and physically exhausted with a desire to hit the town and get a little rowdy. Often though, because of my lack of energy I will often resist the urge to go out with friends to “take it easy for a night” or catch my breath so to say.

This creates a big problem for me, not only have I now turned down a good opportunity to let loose but through doing so I cause myself more stress because the relaxing I chose to do did me nothing but restore a bit of energy. I still have a desire to go out but I again turn it down because stress causes me to think about what needs to be done tomorrow or this upcoming week. This cycle of unmet desires and a need to get important things done causes a lot of stress and before I know it the weekend is over and its back to the grind of life. I have found that in this vicious cycle it is necessary to find an outlet for stress, something you can tap into and will help alleviate all the stress of a week gone by and help to cease thinking of tomorrow and just slow down and live in the now.

Serving others has become this outlet for me. Though I will admit, I still have that dread of getting to the service site and spending my time, pay free, doing something for someone else. I know that sounds bad, but I think almost all of us have that thought in our head at least once before doing service, but I go anyways because it helps me to slow down and appreciate the small things and the things I take for granted on a daily basis. Not only does it do wonders for me, but it always helps whoever your serving. Regardless of if it is direct or indirect service (to the clients) it promotes a good feeling, a release of stress, and ultimately is generally a good use of time.

I think it is necessary to experience different kinds of service throughout one’s life to have the same epiphany I did. One service experience won’t always reveal the true benefits of serving others. Maybe you aren’t good with people but you love dogs. Find sites where you can walk dogs of a humane society, not only will you gain a lot from that but the dogs will immensely benefit from kind human interaction and care that they typically don’t get a lot of due to their circumstances. Maybe you’re not good with kids but you have always connected well with the elderly. Go to a nursing home and spend some time with the elders, you will not only gain a better understanding of them and learn something along the way but they will enjoy your company and a good conversation that many people take for granted. I think that service to others is one of the highest forms of charity, because one person giving their time to someone or something else can have a huge ripple effect.

But maybe you’re not like me, I probably just think way too much, maybe you already have that stress outlet in something or someone else. But do yourself and your community the favor of donating your time to a good cause, especially if you have never done service before. Yes you may have that same drudging idea I have before going to do service, but that thought quickly fades and the time you put in is always worth the intrinsic rewards gained from serving others. So give it a try and find out what service does for you!

By : Taylor Matysik, BUSN200 Student Facilitator

Published on: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Giving Back

Many times throughout the course of my studies in business, I have continually come across an idea that has been shared by many successful CEOs, investors, and entrepreneurs. That is the idea of giving back. “One thing that every successful business owner must do is give back to the community, usually about 10% in either time and/or money. Don’t think of it as giving it away; think of it more as a repayment to God. God helped you get where you are and all He’s asking for is His 10%.” Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

“If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” Warren Buffett

“Think of giving not as a duty, but as a privilege.” John Rockefeller

“Wealth is not to feed our egos, but to feed the hungry and to help people help themselves.” –
Andrew Carnegie

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

While we may not be as successful as the people listed above, we are fortunate to be in the positions we are in. We’ve all been given an opportunity to make something of ourselves, here at St. Thomas, to become productive members and leaders of society. With that opportunity though, comes the responsibility to contribute to the common good. Business 200 has been, and continues to be, an example to show our future leaders the importance of philanthropy and broadened the horizons of many of its students. In closing, I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors, Eric Hoffer.

“The real “haves” are they who can acquire freedom, self-confidence, and even riches without depriving others of them. They acquire all of these by developing and applying their potentialities. On the other hand, the real “have nots” are they who cannot have aught except by depriving others of it. They can feel free only by diminishing the freedom of others, self-confident by spreading fear and dependence among others, and rich by making others poor.” – Eric Hoffer

By : Timothy Potter, BUSN200 Student Facilitator

Published on: Monday, October 8th, 2012