Lee Business Students Learn By Giving

Dec. 10, 2014

‘Tis the season of giving, and about 225 freshmen in the UNLV Lee Business School spent all semester doing just that.

For the sixth year, students in Business 103 Business Connections classes have given their time to help worthy causes in the Southern Nevada community while earning class credit.

Projects ranged from tutoring children at the Jackie Gaughan Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada to coordinating the Great Strides Walk at UNLV and helping raise $12,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Adam Jimenez, clubhouse director at the Gaughan Boys and Girls Club at UNLV, said the students’ work with children made a huge impact, especially for a severely autistic boy.

“Every day, he could only high-five me. One of the volunteers somehow taught him how to play pool,” Jimenez said.

“We told his mom, and she was hysterical. She had no idea that her son was capable of doing that. These students are phenomenal.”

Service learning helps students experience the importance of community involvement and citizenship, said Karen Seale, lecturer and Business 103 coordinator, who teaches four sections of the class. Her Section 8 class worked with Jimenez at the Boys and Girls Club.

“Students begin to understand the role social responsibility plays in their personal and professional lives,” she said.

Business 103 is designed to help freshmen get acclimated to UNLV and covers academic planning, career exploration, study skills, time management and business concepts. A service learning project is optional.

Students say the projects were meaningful because they learned while helping others.

“I have a desire to help those less fortunate than me,” said Jose Gonzalez, whose group volunteered at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission.

“You have a sense that you’re part of something bigger than yourself.”

John Starkey, an academic advisor who teaches Sections 10 and 11 of the course, said, “No matter where you go or what you do, people will expect you to give back. One of the best ways to do that is to volunteer.”

His classes worked together as “Team Bring It” to raise awareness and $4,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides Walk at UNLV.  They also served as event coordinators, rallying more than 100 walkers to raise a total of $12,000 for the charity.

Service learning allows students to put into action what they’ve learned in the classroom, said Beth Gersten, assistant dean for undergraduate programs.

“We think it’s very important for students to learn about business in the community setting and what it means to be part of the greater Las Vegas valley,” she said.

“We want them to not only learn about business concepts but to put them into action.”

Students organized their teams like businesses and divided responsibility for functions such as marketing, communications, finance, and research and development.

In its Jeans 4 Teens campaign, Gersten’s Section 4 class raised nearly $200 and collected more than 800 clothing items for abused and neglected youth at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City.

Following are profiles of other projects:


Section 1

Family Promise

Raised $115 and created a video showcasing homeless families helped by the agency

Created promotional video

Karen Seale, instructor


Section 3

Jackie Gaughan Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada at UNLV

Created Cans 4 Kids drive; set up booths at the Student Union and Student Recreation and Wellness Center to collect canned goods

Performed SWOT analysis

Raised $250 and collected three dozen cans

Rebecca Gates, instructor


Section 5

Opportunity Village

Created promotional video

Karen Seale, instructor


Section 6

Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation

Partnered with Stephano’s restaurant to raise funds

Divided into two groups:

  • Water bottle group raised $85 and spread awareness of the autoimmune disease that attacks moisture in body
  • Dentist group handed out pamphlets and patient education sheets at dentists’ offices

Nicole Pavlico, instructor


Section 7

Three Square Food Bank

Packed more than 500 meals for the homeless; performed SWOT analysis of the Food Bank

Michael Biesiada, instructor


Section 11

In addition to Great Strides Walk, the class created a mock company to rebrand struggling businesses

John Starkey, instructor


Section 12

UNLV Cares Food Pantry

Raised nearly $150 and collected 24.5 pounds of food

Expanded social media presence and created 40-second video

Starr Wharton, instructor


Section 13

Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Created video, volunteered more than 50 hours

Learned teamwork, social responsibility and communication

Karen Seale, instructor