Graduate Net Impact consists of student organizations and professional groups that strive to build a more sustainable world. By running diverse program initiatives, the University of Arkansas Graduate Net Impact chapter drives meaningful change on campus, in the workplace and in the local community.
On October 13, 2021, chapter president Alana Collins (MBA ‘22) hosted a session and speaker panel titled “How to Drive Change in your Community.” Session activities included an overview of chapter initiatives and an open panel for students to ask questions to key speakers.
Prior to opening panel discussion, Collins discussed the chapter’s two key initiatives: hosting a speaker series for students, alumni and community partners as well as continuing a student-run consulting group for social impact and values-driven organizations. As part of the consulting group, students can provide sustainable solutions to community problems and support non-profits, new social ventures and small businesses. Involvement with the chapter allows students to focus on leveraging business skills while supporting the NWA community.
Session attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about the chapter’s initiatives and involvement opportunities as well as questions for the panelists. Key panelists included the following:
- Alyssa Snyder, founder of Seeds That Feed, an organization that promotes healthy eating and eliminates food waste by working with farmers to collect and redistribute surplus foods.
- Maximiliano Perez, program coordinator at the Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange (CACHE NWA), an arts service organization working to develop “an inclusive, inspiring and equitable ecosystem of diverse artists, businesses, nonprofits, and communities.”
- Rogelio Garcia Contreras, director of the Social Innovation Program at the University of Arkansas, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Venture Innovation at Walton College and leader of Arkansas Global Changemakers, a project working on local solutions to global challenges. Garcia Contreras has extensive experience as a consultant, researcher, and political and public policy analyst in both Mexico and the United States.
- Madison Sutton, program manager in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and director of Enactus, a non-profit student group at the University of Arkansas focused on “engaging the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders to use innovation and business principles to improve the world.”
Over the course of the discussion, panelists touched on opportunities for students to learn more about social innovation and make a difference in their communities. Garcia Contreras wants students to understand that “corporations allocate funds to processes that are close to their mission.” Outside of academia, Garcia Contreras has extensive experience with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, UNESCO’s Steering Committee on the Sustainability of Peace, and developing programs designed to benefit refugees at UN High Commissioner for Refugees settlements in Northern Africa.
Opportunities for involvement ranged from clinical associate professor of marketing Molly Jensen’s nonprofit marketing classes to getting involved with city event planners such as Experience Fayetteville. To find opportunities, panelists recommended utilizing Instagram and Facebook and looking for local shows and events.
To maximize their takeaways from involvement, panelists requested that students consider what problems they see when they are out volunteering in the community. Students can consider how to balance profit with purpose to create new ideas and strategies for the community.
One opportunity to explore community problems is the Social Innovation Challenge, which empowers students to tackle social responsibility initiatives such as diversity and inclusion or sustainability in their communities.
To learn more about service and involvement opportunities, students can reference the University of Arkansas’ Graduate Net Impact chapter or the Social Innovation Challenge.