Inside USD

USD Students Give San Diego Woman Early Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving came early to a San Diego woman this year, courtesy of USD students.

Thirteen undergraduate and eight graduate students renovated the home of 58-year-old Rosalie Cardenas, in just two weekends, as part of a School of Business Administration class in project management. This is the 11th annual Thanksgiving House students have completed.

Cardenas, who lives in National City, just outside of San Diego, is a vibrant woman who enjoyed salsa dancing for many years until she inexplicably lost the use of both legs a year ago and is now confined to a wheelchair.

“You did a great job,” she exclaimed, as students showed her around her “new” house on Nov. 9.  The ambitious project included many improvements to make her home more wheelchair-friendly, including lowering countertops, installing new sinks, widening doors and adding a roll-in shower and access ramps. Students also added new concrete to her yard and a beautiful deck that wraps around the home.

The group of tired but proud students said they got as much as they gave from the project, including lessons that will serve them well in the business world.

“It’s a lot harder to plan than you think,” said Maddie Buchanan, who called the project “an amazing experience.” In fact, Buchanan, a psychology major with a business minor, said she is now seriously considering a career in construction management.

Undergraduate students Nadia Khan and Safiya Govani ticked off a long list of skills – time management, planning and organization, working with people and even e-mail etiquette that they learned from the project. While a lot of work, it was “a lot of fun and worth it,” Khan said.

Cardenas also recalled how she lost her mother 15 years ago at Thanksgiving. She said she was grateful for the “positive memories” of the holiday she will have from now on.

To see photos and learn more about the Thanksgiving House, including the donors who helped make it possible, go to

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