November 7, 2018

MSB Dean’s Office Opportunities Promote Social Justice in Business, Research

The McDonough School of Business (MSB) Dean’s Office funds student opportunities to gain international business experience through a variety of socially conscious programs, including the Global Social Internship Program (GSIP) and the McDonough Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).

Volunteers and students who benefit from the work of the Fabretto Foundation
Volunteers and students who benefit from the work of the Fabretto Foundation

The programs allow students to apply their business skills beyond the classroom, whether in Nicaragua through GSIP or a region of their choosing through SURF. These co-curricular experiences demonstrate to students how business and values can intersect in their professional and academic careers.

“Our world is changing at an incredible pace, and our students will need to embrace the Jesuit core value of engaging in lifelong learning to teach themselves new skills and knowledge,” said Daniela Brancaforte, senior assistant dean in the MSB. “Allowing them to conduct research as undergraduates will prepare them to remain curious and actively search for answers to challenging inquiries throughout their lives.”

Where Business Meets Justice

GSIP involves a five-week fellowship with the Fabretto Children’s Foundation in Nicaragua, through which students refine their understanding of nonprofit business development while improving their Spanish proficiency.

With a mission to empower underserved children and families, the Fabretto Children’s Foundation offers early, primary, and vocational education programs to more than 20,000 children and youth in Nicaragua. While GSIP primarily sends students to work at Fabretto, the program has previously sent students to Peru and Costa Rica.

“The program was actually created solely for the sake of social justice,” said Monija Amani, senior assistant dean and director of global programs at the MSB. “And because of our Jesuit traditions, we wanted to get students more involved in a social internship, or global social internship.”

Although students were unable to participate in GSIP in 2018 due to U.S. Department of State travel restrictions, past Fabretto Fellows have grown professionally and personally through the program.

“To me, the Fabretto Fellowship was five unforgettable weeks of professional development, personal growth, and fun,” said Anisha Pai (B’19). “When I was working on the strategy projects at Fabretto, I was really in my element. I enjoyed doing internal research about Fabretto's current strategies, and presenting my new ideas to upper management.”

Funding Student Research

While GSIP’s nonprofit internship opportunity is reserved for rising juniors and seniors, all MSB students are eligible to receive SURF grants.

“The McDonough Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship gives our students the opportunity to pursue their interests while conducting research under the guidance of a faculty mentor,” said Brancaforte.

The program awards grants for an array of topics, allocating $2,500 for five-week proposals and $5,000 for ten-week proposals. With funding from SURF, Gianmarco Dedos (B’20) spent his summer researching the economic effects Hurricane Maria had on his home island of Puerto Rico.

“The research fellowship grant gave me the ability to apply my business knowledge to a topic that is dear to me, while also helping raise awareness to the struggle of what life has been like in a post-Maria Puerto Rico,” said Dedos.

Supporting Socially Conscious Work

For many participants, programs like GSIP and SURF have reinforced career aspirations in socially conscious work. “My experience at Fabretto in the Managua office and education centers throughout the country was one of the highlights of my Georgetown experience,” said Joaquin Pannunzio (B’17). “The field exposure GSIP provided reassured my aspirations to pursue a career in international development.”

“[The SURF Grant] allowed me to speak with a diverse group of people and to better understand the trials and tribulations they went through,” said Dedos. “I feel like because of the grant I have a more intimate knowledge of the island where I was born.”

In addition to GSIP and SURF, the MSB runs the Global Business Fellows Program. Sophomores in the MSB and School of Foreign Service can pursue this interdisciplinary track, which involves a global consulting experience and workshops in public policy. Also available to MSB students are summer abroad programs in Hong Kong, Barcelona, and Oxford.

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