Taylor Kilpatrick, Mackenzie Paschen and Clare Kane arrived at the University of San Diego in 2011 fully open to the possibilities around them, aware of the power of doing good and a belief that one person’s actions can make the world a better place.
Thanks to USD’s Alcala Bazaar, an event held at the start of each semester to inform and encourage student involvement, all three women found a campus connection that matched their outlook on making a difference for all by joining Net Impact.
“We’re a club that uses business to help create social change to promote a more socially and environmentally, sustainable world,” said Kilpatrick, a sophomore international relations major and environmental studies minor. “We promote fundraisers and events for companies that are for-profit, but who are trying to make a difference in the world.”
Some of the companies they’ve hosted on-campus fund- and awareness-raising events for include Living on One, TOMS, and Nika and, through electronics waste recycling drive last spring, USD’s E-Waste Center.
“It was a very successful event and we plan to do another e-waste drive this spring,” said Paschen, a sophomore communications major and business administration minor.
Kilpatrick said her “aha moment” came on a high school trip to Guatemala. There she was introduced to the concept of microfinance loans and she saw people starting companies from the ground up before her eyes.
“There was one guy who’d hire kids for a day and he’d have them go around and collect all the plastic trash they could find and bring it back to him. He’d clean it, cut it up, turn it into jewelry and sell it. The money he earned would go back to the families of these kids,” she said. “It was amazing. Here’s someone whose idea supports families, helps kids learn about business, develops their skills as entrepreneurs and helps the environment by taking trash off the streets. It was so incredible. That provided a spark for me.”
Paschen’s passion to make a difference by helping others came through volunteering at Casa Pacifica, a program dedicated to helping abused and neglected children. The organization provides a safe environment and provides personal development and education assistance so that when the children turn 18, they’re ready to make an impact.
Kane, a sophomore, is looking at majoring in environmental studies, along with minors in biology and Law and Ethics. Her varied interests tie-in well with what she learned growing up in Connecticut. Her parents are well connected to the National Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organization that works to protect and restore ecosystems.
“I’ve grown up around it and it’s always played a role in the choices I make,” said Kane of her environmental mindset. “Net Impact tries to help people who want to make social change become more aware that everything you do makes an impact. When you buy something at the store, for instance, you know everything that went into getting that product to the store and to you.”
Kilpatrick, Paschen and Kane are co-leaders of USD’s Net Impact chapter. While members aren’t all business majors, they’re constantly working with businesses that have a heart.
TOMS is a prime example. Its brand has become the mainstream face of the one-for-one marketing concept. For each pair of shoes a person buys, one pair is donated to children in Africa. Net Impact has participated in a TOMS’ “A Day Without Shoes” promotion. Nika’s water products also help to provide better access to water sources for people in underdeveloped countries. Living on One is a college student-driven idea that developed while on a summer trip to Guatemala two years ago. There, the students experience true poverty, living on $1 a day. Kilpatrick and Paschen said Net Impact hope to host a Living on One film screening in the spring.
These proven examples and other potential opportunities for doing good — such as a book donation drive for people in Africa or helping to teach Girls Scouts business skills and how to be active in the business world — make being part of Net Impact a worthwhile investment of a USD student’s time.
There’s a growing appreciation on campus, too, for USD’s designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. This recognition, given to the university in Fall 2011, opens the door for all students to explore, engage and stimulate their desire to create meaningful social change.
The USD Changemaker Hub recently announced the USD One Challenge, a concept that encourages full campus community participation and beyond on a single topic. The first one chosen through an online vote is the environment and wasteful production and consumption. The announcement surely has Net Impact’s attention and its support.
“I’m really excited about the USD One Challenge and getting involved in it,” Kilpatrick said. “I think this can be a uniting topic for the campus. It’s already a big piece of what our club focuses on, but I’m excited to see what happens when we can come together to fight these big problems.”
— Ryan T. Blystone
Follow USD’s Net Impact chapter on Facebook for events and other updates.