Enterprise. Innovation. Global-Community. Service. Leadership.
All of these encompass the values of Enactus—a student-run organization that is new to George Mason University but has a presence on 1,600 other leading universities around the world.
"There are so many opportunities clamoring for students' attention during their university experience," said Kaleb Valdez, Enactus Mid-Atlantic Regional Program Manager. "There are many opportunities to do good and build experience; that said, I've never seen a network like Enactus, where the top of the business world, some of the best educators, and the next generation of leaders can come together to empower their community."
Enactus is an international non-profit organization that brings together student, academic, and business leaders and is comprised of 62,000 students from 1,600 universities in 38 countries worldwide. Guided by academic advisors and business experts, the student leaders create and implement community projects aimed at improving the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.
"They build meaningful, rewarding relations that open doors to careers and enterprise," explained Valdez. "They gain real-world experience in managing projects and working as a team, communicating with their partners and stakeholders. And they are teamed up with others who have the same passion and determination to change the world, one person at a time."
Mason's Enactus team will begin its official meetings in the 2014 spring semester. Open to all Mason students, the organization encourages students of varying concentrations to join. As a group, the student members will decide on one or multiple community projects to implement during the course of the semester.
To be a part of Enactus at Mason, each student must commit to 10 volunteer hours toward the chosen community project during the semester. Potential project ideas that the group is currently considering include volunteering at an orphanage, assisting elderly in the area, providing unique training to prepare students for specific internships and careers, and a few ideas closer to home to take place on the George Mason campus.
"In addition to the volunteer experience, being a member of Enactus is a very career enhancing experience," said Tim Porter, assistant professor of information systems and operations management, who worked with undergraduate students to establish Mason's Enactus group.
Students can earn professional development units (PDUs) and have the opportunity to network with major corporations that sponsor and judge Enactus competitions, actively recruit Enactus students, and fund Enactus projects.
Each semester, national competitions are held in 36 cities around the world over the course of 16 weeks. The winners of each national competition move on to the Enactus World Cup, which will be held in China for the Spring 2014 semester. At both the national and world competitions, university teams present on how their community projects have inspired hope, created opportunity where little existed, and ultimately improved lives and strengthened communities.
At each event, business leaders serving as judges evaluate the quality and impact of the projects. Sponsor organizations—including The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Unilever, and The Hershey Company—send a team member, typically a C-Suite member, to serve as a judge during the competition. The goal of these dynamic and inspiring events is to encourage creativity and reward results, ultimately leading to stronger programs and more lives improved.
"The experience transforms lives," said Valdez. "It helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world."
Images courtesy of Enactus (Flickr member).