Thursday, April 30, 2015

[395] Connections with pros made at Nonprofit & Social Innovation Student Summit

Higgins, an organizational communication major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and fellow ORCO major Lupe Garcia, a junior from Shelbyville, Tennessee, listened intently inside the James Union Building ballroom Friday, March 27, as presenter Sam Davidson shared advice on how students could identify their passions and turn them into a career.

“I’m talking about taking what it is they care about and turn it into an entrepreneurial venture — if they want create their own company or their own nonprofit,” said Davidson, a social entrepreneur and founder of Nashville-based nonprofit Cool People Care.

“Students are coming to college being passionate about something, having volunteered and being more socially aware than generations before them. … If they can identify something they really care about, then they can shape their educational career around that.”

Higgins said Davidson’s presentation helped her begin to “put two and two together” regarding her plans for the future and a career.

“It made me realize that I need to start planning and getting things done,” said Higgins, who hopes to pursue a career in event planning or something in the publishing field.

Friday’s half-day summit wrapped up a series of events for the second annual Nonprofit and Social Innovation Week. The cross-disciplinary week of events, which drew some 350 students, was hosted by the Departments of Management and Marketing and Business Communication and Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business and the Department of Communication Studies and Organizational Communication in the College of Liberal Arts.

Friday’s guest speakers conducted sessions on: funding; social innovation; career-focused volunteering; passion to purpose; beyond ordinary marketing; cool people care; and new nonprofits.

Davidson’s organization, Cool People Care, launched nine years ago and leverages its brand power to create products such as T-shirts and posters and then donates the proceeds to various causes.

Added Garcia on Davidson’s presentation: “Now I have a really good vision of how to plan out some of my future.” Garcia, who also wants to launch a career in event planning, added that she also looked forward to finding an internship opportunity during the internship fair next door.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee was among the nonprofits with a booth set up in the Tennessee Room for the volunteer/internships fair. Taylor Loyal, Second Harvest’s development manager for Rutherford County, said his agency was signing up student volunteers and sharing information about the 40 or so mobile pantries that operate in the county.

“There’s always opportunity for students to volunteer at one of those,” Loyal said. “This (event) gives us a great opportunity to meet with students and explain what we do.”

Dr. Janet McCormick, an associate professor of organizational communication in MTSU’s Department of Speech and Theatre, said making such connections is among the key goals of the event.

“The idea is to bring the nonprofit professionals to the students on campus. It’s a networking opportunity; it’s a connection for internships and project opportunities as well,” McCormick said, adding that the morning’s keynote speaker Daryl Mackin of local nonprofit A Soldier’s Child collected information following his remarks for students interested in interning with his organization.

Meanwhile, students majoring in organizational communication were getting hands-on training by working the sign-in tables as attendees entered the James Union Building.

“They’re involved in every aspect of this,” McCormick said.

For more information about the Nonprofit & Social Innovation Week, contact Dr. Leigh Anne Clark at

— Jimmy Hart (

TAGS: “Nonprofit & Social Innovation Student Summit”, Jones College of Business, nonprofits, College of Liberal Arts, MTSU, Middle Tennessee State University

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