What to Do During Spring Break? Volunteer, Bauer Students Say

Published on March 9, 2012

Bauer Student Research Project Focuses on Leveraging Desire to Give Back

The course project involved current undergraduate students, Bauer faculty and staff and members of the alumni organization and business community.

The University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business is home to a wide variety of student organizations, all working on various volunteer and community work within their own groups, but what if for one week a semester, each came together as one to help the community?

That is the goal of a group project presented in the fall by students from an undergraduate course in Bauer College called GENB 2301: Connecting Bauer to Business. Dubbed the “Alternative Spring Break Project,” the team’s idea was to use the weeklong vacation students get in March as an opportunity to host a volunteer project for all student groups in the college.

The team included students Gabrielle Gamal, Julian Gomez, Bryan Haver, Luis Medina, Jessica Portillo, Belen Prebisch, Uroosa Samar and Tiffany To, who worked with an advisory team comprised of alumni Pamela Lyle (MBA ’11), Brian Mehring (MBA ’10), Richard Orellana (BBA ’96) and Thu Pham (MBA ’10).

The students presented their project in November to a panel that included Associate Dean Frank Kelley and Undergraduate Business Program Manager Joyce Williams, along with Orellana, who serves as community service committee chair for the Bauer College Alumni Association, and other community outreach leaders.

The students worked throughout the fall semester to gather research on what volunteer activities Bauer student organizations currently do and the resources available to them. Through interviews with organization officers and faculty, the students found that 40 percent of student organizations were unaware of the resources the college offers to students to aid in volunteer and community outreach projects, including support through the Rockwell Career Center and the Bauer College Alumni Association.

The students involved in the Fall 2011 project were (from left) Julian Gomez, Tiffany To, Uroosa Samar, Bryan Haver, Gabrielle Gamal, Belen Prebisch, Jessica Portillo, and Luis Medina.

In their presentation, the student team said they aim to lower that number dramatically through the Alternative Spring Break Project and other collaborative volunteer initiatives. Another important finding, the team said, was that member support of volunteer initiatives is strong among Bauer student groups.

In addition to bringing together student groups in the college for community service, the team proposed that Houston non-profit organizations partner with the college for volunteer opportunities.

Lyle, one of the team advisors and CFO of The Rose, a non-profit breast cancer organization, said, “The Alternative Spring Break Project is a great first step to begin the dialogue between the students who have the desire to give back and the non-profits who need it.”

“It’s obvious from this initial work that the UH Bauer student organizations currently devote a great deal of time to philanthropic activities,” she added. “The next step is to harness that power through collaboration of all the Bauer organizations and throughout UH to support the Houston non-profit community in a targeted fashion.”

The team suggested a number of creative ways to leverage the passion for service among Bauer student groups, including major community projects such as cleaning up beaches, planting trees, and aiding and spending time with children in need could happen not only on during spring break, but also during the summer and winter breaks and in new locations.

“We would like to be able to organize Alternative Winter Breaks and Alternative Summer Breaks for students who are interested and want to spend their time away from school helping their community,” Medina said.

The group hopes to launch the first Alternative Spring Break in 2013, and the work done in the fall semester has already resulted in a relationship between the Bauer College Alumni Association and student groups in the Bauer Leadership Council.

By Ryan Tang

Posted Under: Current Students, Service, Student Success

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