BNSF Leader projects

Leaders Heed the Call of Their Community

Throughout their junior year, students in the BNSF Neeley Leadership program undertake important projects that have a meaningful impact on the community.  

May 04,  2017

By Elaine Cole

[Excerpt from Neeley Magazine] – “When I think about giving back to the community, I think about service,” said Marilyn Loubier, supply and value chain management major. “The ability to use my business skills? I don’t think I would’ve put two and two together without these projects.”

Impact projects are formative experiences for students in the BNSF Neeley Leadership program.

“Students dive into the messiness of real projects and teamwork to exercise the talents and skills they have developed and use them to make a significant, meaningful difference in the community,” Greg Stephens, management professor and academic director of the BNSF Neeley Leadership program, said.

Stephens teaches the Team Leadership Skills Course with Brad Harris, assistant professor of management. The course includes year-long projects that identify and address a need in the community. Over two semesters, students brainstorm, pitch their ideas, form small teams and execute their plans.

For their project, Loubier and classmates Nick Spearman and Madison Morine, both finance majors, formed a team to help the homeless. They contacted the Presbyterian Night Shelter and worked with Director Toby Owen on feasibility studies for social enterprises that employ tenants of the shelter. The goal was to set up social enterprises to provide employment for people to learn and use skills to earn a living to transition out of homelessness and into low-cost housing. 

Getting the enterprises up and running took some time, but when the shelter secured a grant from the City of Fort Worth, the team helped Owen hire a full-time employee to oversee the social enterprises. Owen was so impressed by the students that he asked them to join the social enterprise committee.

“Serving on a committee for one of the largest homeless shelters in Tarrant County as a junior in college, and being around business professionals who respect you as part of the committee, we know we are making an impact longer than just a year,” Loubier said.

While making an impact on their community, the projects also make an impact on the BNSF Neeley Leadership students.

“It helps them understand that they have a greater purpose beyond having career success or making a lot of money,” Stephens said. “It helps them see needs and address those needs. There are a variety of ways they can do that, but they need to feel that passion. By the time they finish their impact project, they have that passion. They acknowledge and accept that they have a responsibility to make the world a better place.”

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