Business 1010 students find purpose in serving area non-profits
The College of Business puts a strong emphasis on service as part of its learning experience, and nowhere is it better displayed than by Business 1010 students.
The introductory class required of all business majors, includes a four-hour commitment to community service from each student. In an average school year, that amounts to an infusion of more than 3,900 volunteer hours the greater Clemson community receives from business students.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of any non-profit,” said Marjorie Luke, events and volunteer coordinator for the Arts Center of Clemson. “We depend on volunteers from the university and Business 1010 students are among the best who pass through our doors.”
Luke said the business students are some of the center’s most focused volunteers because they understand deadlines and are great problem solvers.
“We recently had to transform our building to an event site in four hours and all we had to do was give the students broad instructions,” she said. “They organized into teams and figured out a way to make it happen. Without a doubt, these students take this service responsibility very seriously.”
Sandy Edge, director of the business school’s Academic Success Center, said the community service requirement teaches students the importance of businesses giving back to the communities they serve and provides them insights they often don’t receive in a classroom.
“Just as volunteers are the backbone of many non-profits, community service is a staple of Clemson University’s curriculum,” Edge said. “As a land-grant institution, the notion of serving aligns closely with the university’s commitment to improving the human condition.”
In 2017, about 40 Business 1010 students volunteered at Pendleton’s historic Spring Jubilee. Rhonda Gray, the festival’s director, said they filled a variety of roles from assembling artist’s craft fair packets to helping with parking and traffic control to cleaning up after the event. This year, the 41st annual festival is April 7-8.
“As a non-profit, we depend heavily on volunteers and without the responsible and energetic business students the festival would not be as successful as it is,” Gray said. “The students are dedicated and take their roles with us very seriously. We rely heavily on their involvement in this long-running regional event.”
Gray shared an encounter from the 2016 festival that would indicate students view their involvement in the event as more than a class assignment.
“I specifically recall a male and female student helping an older artist after almost everyone had left the festival grounds,” she recalled. “The artist and her husband were struggling to load their goods and the woman became very emotional dealing with her recent decline in health. It was a very touching moment to see the compassion these students showed the woman during a very difficult time.”
Management major Kayla Sommers of Barrington, Ill., will be one of the Spring Jubilee volunteers, as will five of her sisters from Delta Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., who will assist vendors in setting up their booths. The senior, who will be employed by TIAA after graduating in May, got a taste of event volunteering at Pendleton’s Fall Harvest Festival in 2016, and it agreed with her.
“It was fun directing traffic and working with some of the organizers last fall, and that’s what made me want to return for their spring event,” Kayla said. “It was an awesome experience to be part of such a successful event. It helped me see the impact I had on the festival, but it also made me realize how important volunteers are to the non-profits.”
As part of the community service assignment, students document their experience in a paper, explaining the importance of the exercise and how it benefits the organization and its constituents.
“No matter the academic discipline, exposing students to giving back to their communities is an important lesson in civic responsibility,” Edge added. “It has become a mainstay of the educational experience, and a source of pride, at Clemson University.”
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