They sat silently, listening to each speaker. The woman in the front of the room would occasionally nod her head before scribbling on her notepad. As the PowerPoint slides were read and statistics were explained, it became clear that the speakers knew what they were talking about. A business gathering was underway; it seemed that a high-powered boardroom meeting was taking place on the USD campus.
Instead of an elite business meeting, though, the scene described above is a USD classroom in action and the woman jotting down notes is Rita Lim, the CEO of Wormfree World Institute. “Social Entrepreneurship for Social Change” is a newer class and this semester is only the second time it’s been offered to USD students.
Patricia Marquez, an associate professor in the School of Business Administration and faculty director for the Changemaker Hub explains the aim of the class and how it works.
“It is a consulting project with a new non-profit organization called Wormfree World Institute. The idea is that students have creativity and great new ideas for helping start-ups move forward with their enterprises. It also allows them to put in action what we are discussing in the course.”
According to the Wormfree World website, “Intestinal roundworms are the leading source of disease burden in more than 400 million children worldwide. We urgently need new drugs for curing these children. The vision of Wormfree World Institute is a world where every child is free of intestinal roundworms so they can grow and think to their full potential.”
At the heart of the class is the notion that students are a valuable resource. Instead of viewing college students as inexperienced or too young, this course acknowledges and embraces the unique perspective of young adults.
Chantale Serad, an International Business major, explains that her favorite part of the class is being allowed the opportunity to learn hands-on and experience personal growth as a result.
“[I learned to] challenge the equilibrium,” she says. “We are all such unique individuals, but we oftentimes are much more comfortable going with the flow versus challenging the norm. By challenging, after all, it all starts with an idea!”
The class was divided into groups and each was responsible for presenting suggestions about a different aspect of Wormfree World. Some students presented ideas for branding strategies while another group pitched the concept of creating an internship program with Wormfree World and USD.
After hearing each presentation last week, Lim was pleased.
“Thank you so much for the fine presentations … [the students] demonstrated initiative, synthesis, creativity, and much passion for Wormfree World. I am heartened to see so much talent in the application of management principles to our cause.”
Marquez seconded, saying, “It was very positive to see the students show their knowledge and skills in problem solving. They showed their strengths in gathering data to support innovative ideas for advancing the goals of WfW. All of the students were passionate about their project and showed commitment to provide useful ideas.”
As for the future of the class, Marquez said she hopes that it can become a regular elective in the business school.
“The ideal would be that each time it is taught we can partner with local social enterprises so students can learn by developing projects and the organizations benefits from new ideas and recommendations.”
Serad has similar hopes for her own future. “Call it cliché, but my hope for the future is to have a positive, global impact on our world and to leave society in a better state than I was born in to.”
— Taylor Milam ‘15