Spotlight: MSA class leaves legacy of service

Author: Kathleen Joyce


Members of Notre Dames Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) class of 2004 proved they could do more than crunch numbers.Just ask the students and staff ofSt. JohnVianneyPrimary SchoolinBelize City,Belize, which just last month received a big check, thanks to the studentsheartfelt efforts.

Last February, the 93 members of the class held a Valentines Day flower sale that raised $2,300 in profits and an additional $700 in donations for a Catholic primary school located in the Port Loyola community, one of the citys two poorest and most crime-stricken neighborhoods.

Linda Espahbodi, director of the program, attributes the success of the fundraising effort to the collaboration between the programs staff and students.Steve Matzke and Vicki Holaway served as the principal staff organizers, and student organizers included Elizabeth Kuck, Toby Biebl, Brian McKinnon, Kristopher Allen and Grayson Allen.

In a situation that is very different from the classroom setting, you see different strengths come out from different people,Espahbodi said.[The flower sale] was so different for them.Its not accounting; its doing something thats extremely different.And I think part of the whole learning process is getting people out of their comfort zones and letting them grow.

The flowers for the sale were supplied by Miguel Saavedra of money will benefit the Charles T. Hunter Commission for Social Outreach atSt. JohnsCollegeinBelize Cityfor initiatives to assistSt. JohnVianneyPrimary School.

According to Dianne Lindo, director of the Hunter Commission and former teacher at St. John Vianney, the majority of the primary schools almost 750 students come from needy and impoverished families; many live in dysfunctional homes.The schools facilities are very basic and often inadequately accommodate both the number of students and their learning needs, Lindo said.

The donation from the MSA class will go toward a number of improvements for the school, including the purchase of sturdy picnic tables with roofs for outdoor lessons away from poorly-ventilated and overcrowded classrooms, gift certificates to each classroom teacher for much-needed school supplies, and funding for field trips to afford students a nature experience right in their own country.

The contribution marks the first time Notre Dame MSA students have collaborated to raise money for a charitable cause.Espahbodi traced the roots of the idea for the students to get involved in community service to the words of John Affleck-Graves, now the Universitys executive vice president, to the Notre Dame Accountancy Advisory Board in April 2003.In his talk,Gravesdiscussed the three missions of the University:teaching, research, and community service.

When I looked at it… here in the business school, we have the teaching, we have the research, but there are opportunities for community service,Espahbodi said.And I thought to myself, someday well have that opportunity come up.So that was the seed that was planted in my brain a couple years ago, and I always thought, ‘How can we bring this part into our program as well?That was really the initiator.

The opportunity arrived in February 2004 when Espahbodi became aware of the needs ofSt. JohnVianneyPrimary Schoolthrough contact with Lindo, a friend and high school classmate from St. Catherines Academy inBelize City, where Espahbodi grew up.When Lindo met with the students at Notre Dame and told them of her work inBelize, the students asked how they could assist her efforts.

Espahbodi expressed hope that this type of community service could continue for future MSA classes.

It takes a lot of effort from staff, and in some cases faculty as well, to kind of push the initiative forward,she said.So we need some consensus building to continue in this direction.It all depends on when the class comes in, what it is they would like to do… to leave as their legacy.

TopicID: 10464