Students Support Nonprofit Orgs Through Service Learning Initiatives

Students ‘wow’ judges at annual Cornerstone Competition

Students Support Nonprofit Orgs Through Service Learning Initiatives

The first place team, Heroes, with Cameron Ford, Ph.D.

Recently, students took part in the annual Cornerstone Social Entrepreneurship Competition at the UCF College of Business Administration. Each year, approximately 2,500 business students taking the Cornerstone class work over 40 hours as social entrepreneurs, helping to promote and execute the social missions of non-profit organizations around the Central Florida area. The competition, one of the largest social entrepreneurship service learning initiatives in the world, helps to highlight outstanding groups who have had a significant impact through their hard work and dedication to community and service organizations. The students are nominated and then evaluated by the Cornerstone Competition Nominating Committee, with the top teams advancing to the Cornerstone Competition Semi-finals.

View photos from the event on our Facebook page.

About this year’s Cornerstone Social Entrepreneurship Competition:

This year, 22 teams took part in the competition, which was sponsored by community leaders Jim Balaschak, ’86 & ’92, and his wife Debbie Balaschak, ’88, and judged by prominent local business professionals Carol Ann Dykes, Amy Zeh, Roy Reid, ‘88, and Cathy Mathwig. The finalists were:

The Wild Knights (Instructor: Nasser Kutkut, Ph.D.)

  • Harry Atys
  • Jennifer Bellorin
  • Joshua Garrett
  • Hector Gama
  • Thomas Travers
  • Diana Whitney

Wonder Women (Instructor: Ghada Baz)

  • Sommer Andrews
  • Alina Gubanova
  • Lauren Heben
  • Oanh Hoang Le
  • Amy Messerschmidt
  • Christine O’Connell

Business As Usual (Instructor: Ghada Baz)

  • Yasin Arshad
  • Carlos Cortes
  • Mariah Garcia
  • John Greene
  • Helen Riddle
  • Caitlin Swan

Team Heroes won the event and the Out of the Life team took home the Sustainable Social Entrepreneurship Award.

Heroes:

Team Heroes, led by Management Lecturer Nasser Kutkut, Ph.D., consisted of:

  • John Olivares
  • Aisse Baradji
  • Brandon Bowen
  • Camila Rocha
  • Heloisa Moneiro
  • Jude Jean

Their non-profit partner was the Coalition for the Homeless in Central Florida. The goal was to raise $1000 to purchase school supplies for the homeless children residing in the care of the shelter. To help achieve this goal, the students put on charity events, including a Zumba fundraiser and a 5-on-5 Soccer Tournament (watch the team’s promotional YouTube video)

Out of the Life

One very special team, coordinated by Lonny Butcher, director of Career Connections, was recognized by the judges for their philanthropic efforts in serving those who have been victimized by human trafficking.

The team, representing the local organization Out of the Life, not only stunned the judges in their description of what is was like working directly with trafficking victims, but they also delivered a powerful presentation on their efforts to preserve the mission of the Cornerstone initiative. Unlike any other team, the Out of the Life team was comprised of 120 students. The five students presenting on behalf of the group were:

  • Amber Marken
  • Coral Martinez
  • Josh McCarthy
  • Alexis Norwich
  • Monet O’Brien
  • Lidia Rodriguez

Each student played a key role in the team’s efforts and helped raise over $16,000 for the organization.

The team also:

  • hosted an art show at the UCF Art Gallery showcasing pop art from victims
  • hosted a 5K called Zombie Insanity, which was held at Omega Ranch in New Smyrna Beach
  • helped Out of the Life gain new corporate partnerships, secure an additional safe house with eight new beds, and administer two additional staff members to the board of directors
About Jim and Debbie Balaschak:

The Balaschaks are very community-oriented people who have volunteered their time, talent and treasure to many organizations throughout the community. Their commitment to community and to UCF is demonstrated by their support of the Cornerstone program and the competition. They wish to encourage students to learn the value of volunteering and hope that the experiences gained in the Cornerstone program will continue after graduation. It is thanks to the Balaschaks’ generous financial support that UCF is able to recognize the outstanding students’ activities.