University of Vermont

School of Business Administration

Students in BSAD 196: Entrepreneurial Leadership ‘Make a Difference’

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Matt Lombardo has a habit of studying the syllabi before the start of each semester. When he came across the “Make a Difference” project in BSAD 196: Entrepreneurial Leadership, he was intrigued.

“It was about a paragraph blurb and it said ‘make a difference in your community.’ The main thing was to start something that wouldn’t have started without your initiative,” said Lombardo, a senior Business Administration student concentrating in entrepreneurship.

“The challenge is to envision and deliver a concrete positive change in the community that would not have happened without their initiative, by term ending,” said Dr. Pramodita Sharma, of the School of Business Administration. “Plus, there should be a clear legacy plan so that the project can continue to make a difference beyond their graduation.”

Lombardo has volunteered at a local Hope Lodge in Boston for several years. His idea was to continue that work here in Burlington. The Hope Lodge offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free, temporary place to stay when their best hope for effective treatment is in a city far away from their home.

At the start of the semester, Lombardo and the other members in his group, Jason Fish, Alex Palmer, and Sam Kelly went to the Lodge, made dinner for the residents, and talked about the patient’s needs and wants.  While they went in with other ideas, after this meeting, they learnt that the patients and their families could really benefit from a night out in Burlington. Thus, was born the ‘Food for Hope’ idea.

“We wanted to get them out of the Lodge and experience the local cuisine, get out and enjoy the beautiful Burlington area,” he said.

The group solicited local restaurants to donate one meal a month to their cause. Three progressive restaurants of Burlington - New Moon, Boloco and Church & Main – have already signed up for this cause and several others are being finalized at the time of this writing.

“We tried to make it as sustainable as possible from the beginning. The restaurants that have signed up for the ‘Food for Hope’ initiative, have signed either a six-month or 12-month contract” said Lombardo. We will maintain the relationship with these restaurants and continue finding new ones, he added.

In all, four groups of students are making a difference as a result of this project.  One group started the Kalkin Time – a quarterly School of Business Administration Newsletter. Another team created the “UVM fst” – a historical film to capture the 2012 wins for the UVM's free-style skiing team.

The fourth group has started an Alpha Kappa Psi (AKP) co-ed business fraternity. “We wanted to bring students together in more than just concentrations. While there are several clubs at the School of Business Administration and UVM in general,  we wanted a professional fraternity for all business students. A gathering place that is bigger than interest group clubs.” said Kelsea Peace, a senior Business Administration student concentrating in entrepreneurship. 

“Entrepreneurial Leadership is a new experiential course for our students,” said Dr. Sharma. “Each session involves reflective readings and experiential exercises that are drawn from the interface of entrepreneurship and leadership literatures.”