11/01/2004

Social Entrepreneurial Pathbreakers

by Mark Stefanick and Kristin Eicholtz

In today's money-hungry world, career men and women, as well as the collegiate population, are mesmerized by thoughts of personal gain. Newspapers, television, movies, professors, and peers significantly influence an individual's perception of his or her role in society and the contributions he or she chooses to make. When deciding whether or not to invest time and effort into a particular task, individuals usually ask themselves, "How will this benefit me?" or "Will this look good on my resume?" The time has come for these individuals to become pathbreakers and take innovative approaches to meet community needs and break away from simple self-gratification.

How can individuals serve the community as well as be true to themselves? Social Entrepreneurism. It is the modernization of how non-profit organizations do business. Following the lead of our nation's 5 million industrious small businesses, non-profit organizations are learning to run their operations with more innovation and efficiency. In an attempt to accomplish this goal, non-profit organizations have been encouraging volunteers to employ an entrepreneurial spirit, opening many doors for visionary and problem-solving creativity. In particular, non-profit organizations are reaching out to the college student population.

In many respects, Social Entrepreneurism can be better than a paid internship for students. Volunteering is a very personally rewarding experience that builds character while strengthening the very communities in which we live. This thought can be encapsulated by the profound words of President John F. Kennedy, "And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." These words can be used to inspire America's youth to take on more personal responsibility and make a commitment to community involvement.

College students are encouraged to seek community service and volunteer opportunities that are personally meaningful and will improve the quality of life for others. For example, a nursing student could educate the local community on the importance of AIDS Awareness. As a peer role model, he/she can advocate for responsible decision-making, healthy values and norms, and improved communication skills by attending and presenting at several youth group meetings. This example illustrates a nursing student doing specific volunteer work pertaining to his/her major while saving lives.

Overall, college students need to be informed of the benefits of being a social entrepreneur. There is usually flexibility in being a social entrepreneur because students can volunteer when their schedules permit. Non-profit organizations are aware of this and will work around student volunteers' schedules. These experiences can give students the edge even more so than receiving good grades alone. They will be respected in the community and can use that respect to successfully network and pursue other service arenas.

To demonstrate how Social Entrepreneurism has been used throughout the world, take a man by the name of Korak Day, the award-winning director of My Karma. By using profits from the film and sacrificing much of his time, Day significantly expanded a non-profit organization that offers services for low-income communities in India.

Ideas to be instilled in today's young adults:


    •You are your own best resource.
    •Draw from your personal experiences and interpersonal competencies in determining how you will contribute.
    •Ultimately the experiences you seek and risks you take help shape your future career path.
    •Connect to a deeper passion and purpose in order to discover your life's work!

In summation, although it can be challenging for today's college students to become pathbreakers, it is NOT impossible. They are all capable of sacrificing a little time to gain important career skills while volunteering for service agencies in their local community. Mark Anthony, Director of Career Services at Indiana University of Pennsylvania stated, "By doing so, both parties have their underlying needs met, and in the process, both parties can achieve great things."




www.ProjectSledgehammer.org Founder, Mark Stefanick, is touring college campuses across the country lecturing on the contents of his new book, and has spoken to thousands of students. Mark is a new Hughes Entertainment Group Associate Manager and a "Sometime Actor,” appearing on “Syriana” and “Our Lady of Sorrow.” He can be reached at Email: speaker@projectsledgehammer.org


Kristin Eicholtz is a graduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, working towards her Master of Arts degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education. She can be reached at
Email: Krys31A@aol.com


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