Nonprofit work in business school supplements class learning

Dr. Christina Iluzada’s students volunteer at the nonprofit Pack of Hope center. Many of her students volunteer at a variety of nonprofits to research for a presentation. Courtesy of Charlotte Weston

By Courtney Sosnowski | Reporter

Dr. Christina Iluzada, assistant clinical professor of information systems in the Business School, provides her business communications students with an opportunity to exercise their business skills with nonprofits in Waco, furthering Baylor’s mission to “educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service.”

“There are nonprofits in Waco that are doing great things, but they don’t necessarily have the manpower to do all the things they could do,” Iluzada said. “Baylor business students, who are supposed to be learning about these valuable things like marketing, accounting and finance have special skills that they can use to benefit nonprofits in our community.”

Iluzada, who worked with a nonprofit organization before accepting her position at Baylor, was inspired by a professor in the English department to provide her students with this opportunity. She maintains relationships with certain nonprofits from semester to semester and provides the students with a research question that they have to tackle for the semester.

Alito senior Parker Yates worked with a team of students to better develop the online presence of Pack of Hope, an organization that provides weekend and holiday meals to schoolchildren who face food insecurity in McLennan County.

“There are a lot more constraints with working with a nonprofit, especially one as small as Pack of Hope where it’s basically run by three or four people,” Yates said. “Every recommendation we give them has to be free or as cheap as possible.”

Part of the team’s idea was instilling a social media intern to help manage the organization’s pages. Another member of the group, New Braunfels senior Charlotte Weston, stayed on to work with Pack of Hope after they completed their project.

“They were so interested in the plan that we had created that they asked one of the members of our team to come on as an intern,” Weston said. “So I was able to do that in the spring, and I’m still involved with them this semester.”

Castle Rock, Colo., senior Andrew Wixson also worked with Pack of Hope. Although Wixson and Yates are not majoring in nonprofit studies, the work with the organization benefited their career goals.

“It was a really good opportunity to be able to look at people who have dedicated their entire lives to this nonprofit and have put in enough work and have come up with good enough ideas that we were actually comfortable telling them how they could do things better,” Wixson said. “I think that contributed to the class not only being about business writing, but [also about] being a professional in general.”

The research questions are as diverse as the various nonprofits in Waco. Students have worked with organizations such as VOICE (Viable Options In Community Endeavors), Salvation Army, Goodwill, Take Heart Ministries, Animal Birth Control Clinic and Redeemer Presbyterian Church to address questions designed to challenge their communication and writing skills, and to provide the nonprofits with tangible ideas to implement.

Once the students develop recommendations based on the research that they do, representatives from each nonprofit visit the classroom when each group presented their recommendations to the class.

“I chose to go to Baylor for the opportunity to be involved in the community,” Wixson said. “Being from Colorado, you have to have a very good reason to want to come to Waco, and I think that implementing more things like [the service-learning project] would further Baylor’s Christian mission. Any opportunity to make people culturally aware of how all sorts of entities and all sorts of people work is always a good opportunity.”