Sixteen Mount Mercy University students enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program are traveling to Punta Gorda, Belize, to work for the common good and development of the country this week. Students will partner with entrepreneurs in the country to enhance development of five different businesses, varying in services from solar dried fruit to an Internet café. Punta Gorda is the southernmost sizable town in Belize with a population of approximately 5,500 people representing seven ethnic groups.
The group will leave for Belize on January 19 and return January 26. They will hold poster presentations on Tuesday, February 5, in the University Center Commons from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. featuring their experience. Associate Professor and Chair of the Business Department Bob Walker, Ph.D., and Adjunct Professor of the MBA Program Celina Peerman, Ph.D., are leading the trip.
“This provides a unique opportunity for our MBA students to apply all of their knowledge, skills and talents to help increase the economic development of Punta Gorda,” Walker said. “The students will have a direct impact on these small businesses, increasing revenues and sustainability, which will have a ripple effect through the community.”
Mount Mercy’s Director of International Programs Catharine Cashner said of all the study abroad programs at Mount Mercy, this trip is the most unique.
“It’s unusual for a program to travel to a small town in a developing country and to experience hands-on interaction between the MBA candidates and their local partners. It’s a good match with our MBA program and in many ways mirrors the MBA capstone project students complete at the end of the program,” Cashner said.
MBA student Landis Thompson believes the trip will be life-changing as he and two classmates plan to work with Emmeth Young and his Maroon Creole Drum School, which focuses on the preservation and further development of Creole music and the heritage of Belize.
“This trip reflects the values of Mount Mercy University using reflective judgment, engaging in strategic communication, serving the common good and promoting purposeful living,” Walker said. “It is a great capstone experience for our MBA students. I am excited to see the lasting impact of this experience on our students and the business and people of Punta Gorda.”