Posted May 08, 2018 by Lorraine Black – Undergraduate Student – Towson University College of Business & Economics
Imagine a child, no more than seven years old, coming home from school. All she can think about is finishing the game of “house” she and her friends were playing yesterday. Or maybe it will be a game of kickball or tag, who knows? The friends drop their book bags off at home and then head outside to play. But this kid knows better. Although she could do the same, she can hear her mom’s voice in the back of her mind telling her to do her homework. So, she opens her backpack and pulls out her books, papers, and pencils.
The little girl completes her readings but decides to read a few more short stories because she enjoys seeing how they develop. She also loves how following structured steps results in the correct solution—every time. After completing the assigned long division problems, she makes up her own problems for practice. Now that this little girl feels intrinsically accomplished, she runs outside and tumbles down a giant hill with her friends. Life seems so simple, so easy.
What type of neighborhood did you imagine that scenario in? Could you imagine it set in a government-assisted apartment complex? With drug dealers on almost every corner? With homeless people sleeping on the playground, and police sirens constantly wailing nearby? Does the setting change your perception of the child?
I was that seven-year-old, and that environment describes the neighborhood in which I grew up. As a child, I was oblivious to much of the negative forces going on around me. I waved hello to the drug dealers (one of them was my father), gave homeless neighbors pieces of candy I bought at the corner store, and did not stop playing even when there was a domestic dispute going on in the parking lot. At that time, I saw my surroundings as nothing but home.
Now, as a college student ready to graduate from Towson University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in Spanish, I attribute my drive, my passion, and my need for achievement to the subconscious impact my surroundings had on me.
Throughout my childhood, I personally witnessed people experiencing the root causes of homelessness—addiction, the need to flee from abusive relationships, and the inability to access quality resources. But it was not until I started pursuing my business degree that I realized my true passion—what I believe is the reason for my existence—to eliminate homelessness within my community.
During a business writing course in my freshman year, I had to write a business plan for an organization I wanted to create. My organization was called “Fighting with Unity,” and its goal was to streamline nonprofit services for the homeless population in Baltimore, Maryland. Having to outline what would be needed to make this dream a reality allowed me to see the purpose in all that I had to learn throughout my college career.
Studying business has not just helped me discover my passion but has prepared me to pursue it. The opportunities I’ve had and the knowledge and skills I’ve gained will enable me to become the best advocate I can be for the homeless and to pursue my dream of eradicating homelessness in my community.
Nearly every concept I have learned in my business courses will be vital to making my dream a reality. Courses in statistics combined with research internships have taught me how to collect, analyze, and synthesize data. These skills are necessary for implementing evidence-based solutions as well as formulating conclusions necessary to apply for grant funding. Courses in marketing have taught me how to target specific audiences effectively, which will be critical to soliciting donors as well as support from policymakers and community members. Courses in finance and accounting have equipped me with the knowledge to responsibly and efficiently manage a nonprofit’s books to ensure longevity of the organization. Project management courses, in addition to the experience of having held many leadership positions in various organizations, have given me the confidence and knowledge to plan and execute projects and events of various sizes.
Perhaps most importantly, through coursework that requires intense group work and presentations, being a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, and networking with professors, I have learned how to communicate, to be a team leader, and to network with influential people.
The list of connections between what I have learned throughout my business education and what I will need to know to make a substantially beneficial impact on the homeless community would be too long to include here. But suffice it to say that the knowledge and skills from many of the courses I have taken can be applied directly to my goals. I am building a network of supportive and influential individuals. I am experiencing what it is like to work in the business world. When I look back at my beginnings as a child, I can see that my world was filled with disparity and hardship. Although that environment did not directly have an adverse effect on me, it has inspired me and fueled my drive to make my community a better place. My business education from Towson University’s College of Business and Economics is helping me do just that.