In the aftermath of the tragic shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, it’s become evident that young people mean serious business when it comes to impacting change. As businesses back away from the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment debates widen the divide between political parties, students at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business are applying the leadership skills they’re learning in business school by raising money for one of the survivors.
Anthony Borges, 15, displayed the ultimate act of leadership when he allowed his body to absorb five gunshots while using it as a shield to protect others. As he endures the long road to recovery, Mendoza students are running a GoFundMe campaign to help lessen the burden of medical expenses for him and his family.
“Anthony is a really great example of the ultimate leader; putting yourself first to better the lives of others. He did that quite literally,” says Ryan Kempin, a sophomore finance and political science double major at Mendoza. “We’re trying to emulate that in our lives, standing up for your employees, knowing someone on the face-to-face level even if they’re at the bottom rung of an organization.”
Kempin is one of 100 students enrolled in a Principles of Management courses taught by Chris Stevens, who is one of three original developers of the Keurig Premium Coffee System and an assistant teaching professor at Mendoza. The course teaches various principles of management and leadership, but with a twist. Each semester, students are tasked with one simple instruction: get involved. All classes have to come up with a nonprofit organization or a cause to support.
“The project is in keeping with the Mendoza mission to ‘Ask More of Business,’ or to utilize business as a force for good in the world. Business creates the wealth of the world and business needs to do more to support those in need,” Stevens said in a recent article published by the school. Stevens is not just a professor, but a leader in his own right. A graduate of the Mendoza Class of 1974, Stevens played basketball for the Notre Dame Irish and held senior sales positions at Proctor and Gamble and Anheuser-Busch before helping launch Keurig in 1996. He retired from Keurig in 2013 to dedicate all of his energy exclusively to teaching.
“Professor Stevens teaches us that business isn’t just the greedy line of work with the negative connotation that people typically think of — big CEOS with huge payouts and things like that,” Kempin explains. “We can use it for greater good. Business creates the wealth of the world and we can use it to enrich the world around us.”
$2,700 AND COUNTING
For the class project, Stevens leaves it up to the students to decide what cause they’re going to get involved with. His only instruction is to raise $2,500 for someone who needs it.
“We had the weekend to make the decision,” Kempin recalls. “He then asked us, ‘What did you decide?’ No one had stepped up at which point he left the room for five minutes and told us to figure it out.”
The class came together and, eventually, three options were put on the table. “It was overwhelmingly in support of Anthony,” Kempin says. “For all of us, this has been pretty close to our hearts because we’re not much older than the students who have been impacted and we know that this could happen anywhere. Rather than just talk about it, we wanted to put our money where our mouth is — literally — and show our support that way.”
According to the fundraising page, students seek to, “Help recognize his bravery by raising money to assist Anthony and his family in his battle to recover.” At time of publication, the students have raised $2,710, exceeding their goal of $2,500 in just four days.
In a different section of the course, students selected a local South Bend, Indiana nonprofit to rally behind. The Logan Center is a charity associated with helping individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. With the same goal of $2,500, students have been spreading awareness via Facebook and other social channels to drive donors to their GoFundMe page. Since its launch less than a week ago, students have raised $2,900 and counting.
‘BUSINESS ISN’T ALL ABOUT MAKING MONEY’
“Professor Stevens is really trying to show us that business isn’t all about making money,” says Nolan Adams, a sophomore majoring in accounting. “Part of it is making a profit, part of it is recognizing there are people in need. By doing this and uniting around a cause, we’re building our skills of getting the message out and seeing how powerful we can be in impacting others.”
For Kempin, seeing the fruits of his labor in making a difference for someone else is what’s been most rewarding.
“You’ll take finance or accounting classes and do value of a stock or fill out a tax form, but they don’t necessarily have a human component. You don’t feel like you’re doing something meaningful,” he says. “Being a leader is about pulling the wagon, not sitting on top of it. Giving yourself for others, that’s what it’s all about. It’s really great to take what you learn in practice then going out and actually doing it.”