Category Archives: Philanthropy and Outreach

Scout’s Honor

Shared by Brian Vann


Scouts, BSA offers boys and girls the opportunity to build leadership skills, develop strong character and learn how to provide service to their communities.  These teachings and the Scouts’ philosophy of developing boys and girls led me to introduce scouting to my sons.  Brian, Jr., 10, is a Webelos and Layson, 7, is a Tiger.

I decided to lead my oldest son’s Tiger Den four years ago.  As a leader in the Scouting program, I learned how the organization impacts our young people.  After two years of leadership at the Den level, I moved to lead the entire Pack as the Cubmaster.  As a Cubmaster, I plan the programming for our Pack meetings and help our Den Leaders deliver the Scouting program to our youth. 

Reflecting on my time in Scouts, the program has impacted me just as much as it impacts the youth.  Watching the youth learn and develop character, service attitudes, and honor inspires me.

Nicole O’Reilly Gives Back

 

At a young age, Nicole O’Reilly, a current student in Cohort 15, learned about the importance of giving back from her mom.Kate O’Reilly, mother of Nicole, shared “When our daughter Nicole was born, I was so thankful that she was healthy. Listening to the radio one day that September when she was just a few months old, the opportunity to become a Partner in Hope for St. Jude Children Research Hospital presented itself. Four and a half years later, our son Sean was born, so I upped the ante.” She participates each year in a national campaign, Thanks and Giving®, created by Marlo, Terre, and Tony Thomas, children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas. Their motto: “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

While giving each year, Kate never had an opportunity to visit the facility. “28 years later, I was finally able to see this amazing place,” said Kate. Due to stringent security clearance requirements, she was not able to drive on property when she visited in March 2018. Though she was not able to go into the building, she stated, “I’m proud to be part of something that gives and asks nothing in turn.”

Continuing in her mother’s footsteps, Nicole shares, “I’m grateful to my mom for making my brother and me aware of such an incredible organization that does so much for families going through the unimaginable. In the future, when I have my own family, my goal is to have my kids make the biggest list they can think of: books, movies, toys, etc., go shopping, and then personally take all the donations to St. Jude’s!

Currently, I use an app called Charity Miles as a means to give back. Through corporate sponsors (like Johnson & Johnson, SwapPet, Marriott, etc.), for every mile you walk, run or bike those companies will donate a certain amount of money to the charity of your choice. There are over 40 charities to choose from including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Even though each mile doesn’t earn that much, (I think 10 cents per mile or something along those lines) it adds up! Charity Miles is free to download, and then you just start working out.

I use Charity Miles daily on my lunchtime walk with my friend (and Stetson Hatter MBA ’18 Graduate) Sarah Zambrano, and we used it back in February of this year while I completed my first 5K.

This app can even be used for a fun scavenger hunt day, like my fellow Cohort/SqUadron members Brian Vann, Natalie Ferrer, Nicole Amero, and I did back in April 2018.

Pictured left to right: Nicole O’Reilly, Kate Kroll and Laurie Warfield (Cohort 15)

My fellow Cohort/SqUadron members Laurie Warfield, Kate Kroll, and I have started to walk weekly in Celebration before a homework session. You guessed it, I use the app then too. It’s great to see my daily accomplishments and know that I am making just a small difference to families that are experiencing some of the most difficult times in their lives.”

While balancing the demands of work, school and family, Nicole found her way of supporting those in need. We look forward to seeing the many contributions Nicole will share in the future!

To learn more about/sign up for Charity Miles visit: https://charitymiles.org/

To learn more about or donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, visit: www.stjude.org

 

 

 

 

6 Apps You Need to Have While in Bangkok

Your phone may seem either useless or an expensive trap while abroad, but here are 6 apps that could prove to be invaluable while in Thailand!

#1 GrabTaxi

GrabTaxi operates very much like Uber in Thailand, ultimately taking over the popular taxi service app.

It is a great way to ensure you have a reliable and affordable mode of transportation and all you need is Wi-Fi, so you can book your taxi from the hotel, most restaurants or tourist destinations you visit in the city. It is also an easy way to pay for your taxi as you do not need to negotiate the fair or have extra cash on hand to settle after the ride.

#2 XE Currency

$1 is 32.84 THB

The conversion rate can be a little tricky to remember when quickly trying to pay for a meal or other items such as a souvenir at a tourist shop or a handmade item at a night market.

By using a currency exchange app, even without Wi-Fi, you can determine the cost easily. Just remember when you do have Wi-Fi to update in the app, as currency can change frequently throughout the course of the trip; however it is likely it will be minimally.

#3 Banking app

Downloading your bank app(s) onto your phone before traveling to Thailand is a great way to keep track of what you are spending, keep track of conversion rate expenditures when using your debit or credit card and check that there are no payments that you do not recall making.
Check your balance and transactions periodically throughout the trip or even set up notifications so that each time you do connect with Wi-Fi, your app will notify you of all recent transactions that you can then verify.

#4 Google translate

Google translate has a particularly useful feature of allowing you to take pictures of signs and then translates them. You do need Wi-Fi for this feature, but it will help when you are around your hotel or at any destination with Wi-Fi, which could be anywhere from a tourist attraction to a business to most restaurants you will visit.

#5 Learn Thai

A great one to download before your trip and even begin using on your travels to the airport is Learn Thai, an app that teaches you useful phrases like

“how much is this?” and “I don’t understand”. If you are exploring areas that are less populated by tourists, this app could be particularly useful as some individuals may struggle more with speaking English. It could also be an opportunity to learn and practice your Thai when ordering food, or speaking with a friendly local.

#6 Field Trip

This app also requires Wi-Fi, but you can use it from the hotel and begin your exploration there and check this app whenever you do find Wi-Fi elsewhere in the city. The Field Trip app searches for sightseeing opportunities in your immediate area and even gives some information about the attraction. It could be a great way to uncover hidden gems in Thailand right in your neighborhood!

A City of Play and Possibilities – KidZania

On the fourth day in Thailand, our Cohort 15 members will enjoy a unique experience at KidZania, an interactive city for children where they can role-play over 100 different careers.

Go back to your childhood, between the ages of 4 and 14, and picture yourself in a world where you have access to almost any job you can imagine and act like you worked there in real-time. Truly the best interactive museum you can think of, right? Well thankfully, out of the 19 countries that currently have KidZania, Thailand happens to be one of them. KidZania means ‘Land of Cool Kids’.  Enjoy being a kid again and experiencing this opportunity!

Through role-playing, children are able to learn about concepts such as community, money, and even the diversity of culture. “KidZo” is the currency in KidZania, which can be used for a number of things such as buying food at the grocery store, paying for a visit to the dentist, and even paying taxes. This experience is set up as its own community representing

all aspects of careers such as firefighters, hairdressers, postal workers, chefs, broadcasters, astronauts and health care providers. Additionally, this community is separated geographically to appreciate some careers that are influenced by their culture.

The first KidZania was created in Santa Fe, Mexico City, and has the largest population of children in the world. Over time KidZania has grown to 19 countries, in 24 cities and 10 more countries are opening a total of 12 new locations in the next calendar year or so. The idea stemmed from entrepreneurs who are children at heart, and shared their imagination with the world, giving children a place to create, play, share, learn, and be instilled with a more global perspective of a world full of possibilities.

A Stroll Through History – Ayutthaya

Once the capital of Thailand before the new age that brought to life the city of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is an unmissable city located just an hour outside of Bangkok

Ayutthaya is a city of ruin today, thanks to pillaging by the Burmese, but 300 years ago it was the largest city in the world – and arguably one of the most beautiful. It is a city full of ruins of temples and palaces, where tourists can explore a more ancient Thailand.

Ayutthaya Historical Park is one of the most visited attractions in the city, home to ruins of ancient temples and palaces. It was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. This historical park boasts 425 unearthed archaeological sites, most of which you can walk through or even climb to the top of to enjoy a spectacular sunset, depending on flooding. Some ruins are in a preserved enough condition that you can feel as though you are strolling through some of the most important buildings in ancient Thailand, such as the Royal Chapel.

Khlong Sra Bua Floating Market is a more modern addition to Ayutthaya, but is a replica of the ancient Khlong Sra Bua village, which was once an important trade tour. There are some great trinkets to be found here, and the entertainment is the highlight with performances giving life to Thai folk tales that you may not hear or see anywhere else in your trip.

Wat Mahathat was the spiritual center of ancient Ayutthaya, the royal ceremonial group for religious and non-religious ceremonies.

Some relics found here are now housed in the Chao Sam Phraya Museum, but this site is also home to the Ione Buddha’s head entrapped by the roots of an overgrown banyan tree. Please be courteous  when taking photographs or admiring this popular icon, as gestures deemed disrespectful, such as standing over the Buddha’s head, will not be tolerated.

Wat Yai Chaimongkol is one of the best-preserved ancient royal monasteries in the city, giving you a taste of an ancient Thailand. It is home of the famous large reclining Buddha and a 62-metre inverted bell-shaped chedi that commemorates King Naresuan’s victory over the Burmese. It was originally constructed as a forest temple school.

One note we suggest in exploring this beautiful ancient city is to either rent a bicycle to tour as many ruins as possible on your short time here, or if you have your driver’s license with you – and are brave enough to drive the streets of Thailand – you can rent a moped to travel in style. Alternatively, you can travel by Tuk-Tuk as you go from site to site.

Spend A Day the Cohort Way, During the EMBA Test Drive

Stetson’s EMBA Test drive allows potential EMBA students to experience our innovative curriculum and immersive learning environment designed to accelerate your career and broaden your business acumen. Cohort 15 members Laurie Warfield and Nicole Amero reflect on how last year’s Test Drive positively impacted their experience with the program, and even played a key role in their decision to attend our EMBA program.


Laurie Warfield had been “contemplating going back to school for a Master’s Degree for several years.” Laurie needed a program that was in-person and fit around her work schedule. After exploring the programs in Central Florida, she found Stetson’s EMBA program and thought that it looked “like a great fit”. After talking with Wendy, the director of EMBA program admissions, Laurie decided to attend an EMBA Test Drive event.

The Test Drive event solidified my decision to enroll in Stetson. It was a personalized, in-depth and engaging session that allowed us to meet alumni and prospective students alike. It was energizing to be in a room with so many successful professionals from a variety of career fields!

A particular positive of the Test Drive experience for Laurie was the chance to hear stories from the program alumni; “they expressed how much the program not only changed their career but their life.”

Laurie also found that the program had an enticing diversity of experiences; Laurie has an undergraduate degree in Biology and was delighted in finding that other members of the program also have extensive backgrounds – because of this, Laurie felt that her cohort could be more like a family.

 Together, our strengths and differences would allow us to be successful throughout the 18 – month program. After attending the Test Drive, and learning how personalized and interactive the degree program was, I knew that pursuing an EMBA at Stetson University was perfect for me personally and professionally.

 

 

Nicole Amero had already submitted her application to the program by the time she attended our Test Drive, but was still awaiting her acceptance letter.

The Test Drive definitely was a validation for me that I had made the correct choice in applying to the program.

Nicole particularly appreciated the opportunity of experiencing a classroom setting. She also took the opportunity during lunch meet and greet with members of Cohort 14. Nicole asked the alumni as many questions about the program as she could, and still keeps in touch with Alicia Matheson, whom she discussed the program with at the Test Drive.

Nicole also noted that the Test Drive displayed to her that Stetson is also “focused on the mental health and well-being of each of their students, in addition to their success.” She discovered that there was a “tight-knit” family feel to the current and past programs members, as well as staff and faculty. I could also tell how much of a tight-knit family it is between current students, staff, and alumni.

Nicole also felt more at ease on her first day of classes as she was familiar with the building, as well as the class setting from the Test Drive, and could also recognize faces from both Cohort 14 and Cohort 15.

I think it was the perfect amount of time to get a glimpse into the lifestyle of a Cohort at Stetson in the EMBA program. The free lunch and swag is always cool, too!

 

Andrew Wertheim, a recent Stetson EMBA graduate from Cohort 13, “found the Test Drive sessions to be a valuable resource for prospective students to get a “real world” feel for how a typical EMBA class is run.” Andrew explains that the Test Drives have a “good mix of Alumni who collaboratively participate in case simulations and discussions in much the same way [that they] would do in a class.”

He states that he has “found … students benefit not only from these interactive activities by working closely with [alumni], but it [also] helps to take away some of the “unknown” and break down any apprehensions students might have in terms of their ability to navigate the program successfully.”

Andrew also reflects on the added bonus of the lunch as it “is scheduled along with the current Cohort. This offers potential candidates a chance to open up and really ask questions they’d like to hear firsthand from current students.”

 Overall, the Test Drive is a great “mini-sampling” of what the EMBA program will be like. I recommend it to anyone interested in possibly pursing an EMBA at Stetson.

 

Adam Swiatek is a current EMBA student in Cohort 14, and enjoys sharing “the EMBA experience with prospective students. There’s no better way to experience the EMBA than by spending the day with [current students] during the Test Drive.”

At the Test Drive, you’ll meet “students of the current cohorts enrolled in the program today. The cohort is an important component in creating an open and supportive learning environment. You’ll learn more about how group work, classroom activities and the international trip can bring your fellow students together. By creating those closer bonds, you’ll build each other up and help each other out in ways that you might have never expected.

As you’ll see during the Test Drive, the learning and deeper interactions among cohort members continues outside of the classroom. During lunch, breaks and after-class happy hours, the cohort continues to help each other navigate their own educational journey. Your richer education is important – but, so is applying that experience to your home and work life. Through these more social interactions, you’ll uncover just how your cohort members can help you think differently and possibly solve your own personal challenges.”

I hope to meet you during the Stetson EMBA Test Drive!

Climbing Mount Everest: A Simulating Experience

On Friday September 22nd, Cohort 15 participated in a number of stations, one of which focused on leadership and teamwork. This particular station involved groups of five completing a web-based simulation of a team climbing Mount Everest! Our graduate assistants Jenny and Lauren share their and their teammates’ experiences of working together in an attempt to reach the summit.

Last weekend we had the pleasure of spending roughly two hours with a few of our members from Cohort 15 in a simulation that focused on problem-solving and decision-making challenges. Each person in the group was assigned an individual position (either: leader, marathoner, environmentalist, physician, or photographer). However, they had one group goal in mind: make it up the summit of Mount Everest together. The group faced obstacles along the way that forced them to make decisions as a team in a way that would not only benefit an individual, but would also benefit the group as a whole and thus increase their chances of making it to the top together.

Jenny’s Group –

Jenny’s team took some time to explore the program together and read aloud the goals for the climb. It was quickly noted that individual goals would contrast with each other, and there were going to have to be decisions made along the climb in the interest of the group and not the individual. With each stage, the group discussed pros and cons, always only proceeding with everyone in agreement.

Nicole, Sophia, Abdoul, Kristie, and Jenny (GA) during their teamwork task of progressing to the summit of Mount Everest.

There were sacrifices made for the group, which all members were more than willing to make. Individual goals and points were forgotten, and the overall climb and health of each member quickly became the main concern. The interesting aspect of a struggle with oxygen was that everyone had pieces of information with regards to calculations, but it was only by putting the information together that the answer could actually be found.  Though the team did not make it to the summit – as two individuals had to be rescued – it was considered an overall success for coming so far and working so well as a team.

Discussion/Feedback –

Jenny enjoyed the time to bond with the group and work together to reach their goals, and liked how team members were becoming more and more concerned for each other’s health as time went on, even though it was just a simulation. Abdoul said that though he felt exhausted after the experience, he felt that with a lack of information, mistakes were inevitable, but that it was a good lesson that making mistakes is a big part of leadership and teamwork. Sophia felt that the team became more confident in each other and were going with gut feelings, which is also a big part of teamwork and leadership. Kristie very much enjoyed that the efforts and concerns for the group as a whole took preference over individual goals. She also appreciated that though there was an assigned leader, everyone had equal input into the decisions that were made. Nicole noted that the survey during the simulation asked questions regarding to disagreements and contrasting opinions during discussions, but she found that in each decision we made, we were all unanimous and united as a group.

Abdoul, Jenny (graduate assistant), Nicole, Kristie, and Sophia, after an (almost) successful journey up the mountain!

Lauren’s Group

On day four, Lauren’s group had successfully made it to camp three. However, they were all starting to have critical health conditions both physically and mentally, with some team members also having frostbite and breathing issues. They were faced with the decision of whether to remain at camp three and let everyone rest for the day or move forward to camp four before resting, which was recommended by experts as well as earned them more ‘team points.’ Lauren’s group decided to try and make it to camp four despite everyone being in critical health conditions. Unfortunately, this was not the best choice for them, and both their photographer and physician had to be rescued and brought back to base camp. The next day, the three remaining members made the trudge up the summit, but unfortunately two members ran out of oxygen and had to be rescued and returned to base camp. Because of this, the leader was the only one to make it to the top of the summit successfully.

Discussion/Feedback –

After the stimulation, everyone in Lauren’s group agreed that they had worked really well together despite not making to the top of the summit together. Everyone in her group had decided to disclose any health related issues they had, which they could have kept to themselves. The group felt that this benefited them as they were all aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

One of the students in Lauren’s group described this experience in her own words: “This stimulation was a lot like life: it throws random obstacles at you and you just have to learn and adapt to the curve balls.” The group also agreed that again, like life, it is important to take risks, but it is also important to be conservative sometimes. They took a risk going to camp four to earn more team points, but perhaps they should have been a little more conservative with this decision considering the critical condition of all the team members. Everyone in Lauren’s group had a blast doing this stimulation! They all agreed that it was a great way to get to know their cohort members more through a team building process which took them out of their comfort zone and forced them to make decisions as a group rather than individually.

 

 

 

 

Elephant World Visit

By: Jason Deane

On Friday, June 24, 2016 Cohort 13 of Stetson University visited Elephant World. This is a non-profit organization that works for the elephants.   These elephants are either from the logging industry, entertaining tourists, circus, or begging in the streets.

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The Cohort learned about the dietary requirements for the elephants and were able to prepare, cook, and feed the elephants. Their diets consist of fruits and vegetables. Older elephants eat sticky rice cooked with bananas, sweet potatoes, or corn.

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The Cohort was sadly informed that the property for the elephants may be put up for sale and they are trying to raise approximately $330,000 to purchase this land to continue this wonderful work and continue to have a place for mistreated elephants to call home. This inspired several Cohort members to want to find a solution to raise this money. We will see what the future holds. For more information about this organization you can visit www.elephantworld.org.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

 Cohort 11: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 11 developed marketing plans for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida for their final project in the Marketing Decision-Making course facilitated by Dr. Michelle DeMoss in Spring 2014. Cohort 11 was instrumental in generating ideas for the development of Second Harvest Food Bank’s marketing objectives, strategies, and assisting them with maximizing marketing opportunities to improve their deliverables to the community. The objective of this project was to apply real world learning experiences to benefit both students and the community.

Cohort 11 at Second Harvest Food Bank
Cohort 11 at Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest incorporated some of Stetson’s Executive MBA marketing plan solutions to use in both the short and long term. With September being the Hunger Action month, Second Harvest was dedicated to promote hunger awareness across the US through special events, e-newsletters, blogs as well as their staff and volunteers wearing orange t-shirts in support of their going orange campaign to fight hunger.

During this time, Second Harvest was also competing to receive a Walmart Fighting Hunger, Spark Change $60,000 grant which would help them provide 315,000 meals to the Central Florida community.

pic2Keith Henry, a current Stetson Executive MBA student and search marketing manager at the Walt Disney Company, helped Second Harvest create their first Facebook campaign. Keith leveraged his professional talents, expertise, and shared strategies to increase their fundraising exposure and marketing efforts, during a timeframe well beyond the conclusion of the advanced marketing course offered in the Executive MBA program. Through collaborative efforts of the Second Harvest team and Keith Henry, success was achieved by winning the Walmart grant for $60,000. “Giving back to those less fortunate is a passion of mine, said Keith Henry. I considered this more than just a class project, for me, it was an opportunity to utilize my expertise for the benefit of an organization I truly believe in. I feel privileged to have played a part in Second Harvest being awarded the $60,000 Walmart grant”. Second Harvest is very appreciative of Keith who donated time out of his busy work, school and family schedule to help them achieve this success and contribute to the Central Florida community.

Last Day in Vietnam – Saigon Children

Saigon Children

by Judy Ashbrook & Mayra Santiago

Today, we had the great pleasure to visit the students and administration of the Saigon Children’s Charity (SCC) – a very worthwhile local charity which focuses on poverty reduction through education and training.

After a very informative presentation by the Communication Development Manager, Do Thi Xuan Phuc, we got an opportunity to talk to a group of students, ages 14-22, about why higher education is important, potential career opportunities they can consider, as well as sharing personal stories in order to get to know one another.  There was a 20 minute dialogue back and forth sharing the importance of education, learning how it can help them in their life, and the students were very interested in learning about us and what we do! They heard about Margo’s work with the Disney internship program and learned that they could dream to be an intern and work at one day.  Mayra spoke about coming from Puerto Rico and choosing to immerse herself in the American cultural and way of life, becoming a leader in Disney Company. We also enjoyed interacting with the students and staff through an ice breaker in which we broke up into 3 groups, had 5 minutes to create a team name, brand slogan and how we’d promote ourselves, and then present to the group. Three distinguished teams emerged based on commonalities between Stetson students and Saigon students.  Our team was Magic Saigon – Magic to represent Magic Kingdom and Orlando Magic blended with their Saigon.  We pictured fireworks over the Saigon skyline, and decided we would sell ourselves by promising magic through creativity, education, and innovation.

The students in this school have the opportunity learn skills in many areas such as hospitality, beauty, IT, English and photography.  In order to fund their programs, SCC has many fund raising initiatives. For example, recently they have published a book of photographs taken by the students themselves reflecting Vietnam daily life. With proceeds from this book, SCC will be able to continue support the children of Vietnam with initiatives such as scholarship programs, school construction and training and educational development programs.

To end a wonderful time with this organization, we were able to show our support by purchasing several of the ‘coffee table’ books displaying this impressive collection of photographs  taken by students and compiled over 5 years.  We discussed on the bus to look for ways we could give back to them, and with 90% of the profits going directly back in the form of aid & scholarships these seemed perfect!  Our total donation came to around US$500 which we will be used to help the kids of Ho Chi Minh City to be empowered and self-sufficient. This visit was an extremely rewarding and apt way to end our time in Vietnam!

 

Saigon Children’s Charity is truly making a difference in the lives of the children in Vietnam every day.  We encourage you to follow this link below so that you can too can learn more about the Saigon Children’s Charity. 

www.saigonchildren.com/