Columbia Business School United in Community Service: MBA News |

Columbia Business School United in Community Service: MBA News

By Tim Dhoul

Updated November 20, 2014 Updated November 20, 2014

When MBA student, Sheila Lalani, became vice president of community service for Columbia Business School’s Graduate Business Association, she wanted to start an initiative that would allow everyone attached to the school to come together and which would also have a positive social impact.

“I sensed a golden opportunity to bring together the entire community in an event that takes people out of the campus to do something good for the city we love so much,” says Lalani.

Community service projects attract over 200 students

After months of hard work, during which Lalani and her team sourced funding and partner organizations, her plan came to fruition last Friday as Columbia Business School held its inaugural Day of Impact. The event saw over 200 students participate in a series of community service projects staged across New York City.

“Now that the event has materialized it’s such a great feeling,” says Lalani, before adding, “We had good representation from not just students, but from faculty and administration as well.”

In total, 10 community service projects were taken up by volunteers, including a library clean-up at the Children Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center, Meals-On-Wheels deliveries for the elderly and helping prepare dinner for the Food Bank of New York. In addition, three park beautification projects proved popular with staff and students alike, with the greatest numbers seen at Morningside Park, situated close to Columbia Business School and the Columbia University campus.

One of the attendees at Morningside Park was the school’s associate dean, Michael Malone. In a press release, he said, “We are so proud of our students for bringing this opportunity to life.  They are constantly looking for new ways to demonstrate the impact Columbia can have outside of the classroom.  This initiative really reflects what we believe in most strongly at Columbia: leadership through action, community-wide collaboration, and rolling our sleeves up to make a difference.”

Extending Columbia Business School’s social reach

Casting her mind back to when she was first putting together a proposal for the event, Lalani explains that while much attention is given to social activities and academics, Columbia Business School had never held an event that got students directly involved in community service. She believes the benefits are there for all to see.

“It proved there’s a need. I think there is a need for us to come together and perform community service or to do some type of work as a community, where we’re here delivering meals to the elderly together, or we’re putting together a library for a children’s trust – where we’re working towards a common goal for a few hours,” she says.

Lalani was also pleased to see the initiative’s broad appeal across the Columbia Business School community. For this reason, a celebratory reception was staged once the final community service project had concluded.  There, a slide show featuring shots from all the day’s activities was presented by the school’s marketing and communications department. “So, that was going on in the background while students were mingling with colleagues that went out to the different projects. It was a nice bonding opportunity for the whole community that participated,” enthuses Lalani.

Based on this year’s performance, it looks like Columbia’s Day of Impact is here to stay, with Lalani’s recently elected successor set to continue the good work next year. Meanwhile, Lalani hopes that the initiative will leave its mark on participants when they enter the workforce.  Citing the example of employers who run similar initiatives, she says she hopes that the event “motivates my fellow colleagues to do the same thing when they graduate, go into the real world and start working as business leaders. I definitely plan to do that.”

This article was originally published in April 2014 . It was last updated in November 2014

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).


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