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Kellogg Corps members work with small farmers in India to develop their value-added processing skills.

Kellogg Corps members work with small farmers in India to develop their value-added processing skills.

Beyond coursework

A global corps of Kellogg students apply their skills to lift socially-minded organizations around the world

By Sara Langen

8/3/2012 - When Jessica Porter ’12 decided to pursue an MBA, she wasn’t sure where she wanted to study. The only thing she knew was that she wanted to apply the business knowledge she would acquire to the social sector.

While researching programs online, Porter came across Kellogg Corps, a student-organized series of pro-bono consulting trips that connect Kellogg students with social- impact organizations in the developing world. It was just the kind of experience she was looking for.

“I came to school specifically to learn how to apply business acumen to social problems,” Porter said. “Having the opportunity to do so alongside my peers was a very attractive opportunity that set Kellogg apart from other institutions that may have volunteer opportunities, but not international consulting opportunities with non-governmental organizations.”

Porter was one of 18 students last year to participate in Kellogg Corps’ summer trips. Interest in the program is growing, with 38 students departing this year for projects in Nicaragua, Cameroon, China, India, Guatemala and Uganda, says Kellogg Corps co-president Sagar Desai ’13.

A dedicated community
The trips offer the same opportunities for travel and connecting with other students as KWEST, with the bonus of working on a meaningful project together, Desai says.

“It’s an opportunity to get experience that goes beyond coursework and club activities,” Desai shares. “It’s because we’re Kellogg that we offer programs like this. Few business schools have the type of dedicated community willing to intentionally put this together.”

With trip leaders choosing the regions and partnering with NGOs in education, health, job creation, youth empowerment and other fields, the program — founded in 1996 — is entirely student-sourced. The trips offer participants the chance to apply their MBA skills to real-world problems while gaining exposure to global perspectives, says former co-president Tina Mehta ’12.

“Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and you can see that poverty when you’re there,” she remembers of her trip last summer. “What surprised me and really motivated me was seeing how people with all different levels of economic means are doing whatever they can to lift their country out of poverty.”

A unique experience
Alexis Edberg ’12 felt the same about her experience in Nicaragua last year, where she and a team that included Porter spent two weeks working for two San Juan del Sur organizations — the Rockway Foundation, which needed help finding ways to support primary and secondary educational needs, and Biblioteca Movil, a mobile library project.

“As a leader in Kellogg Corps, you really do have a huge impact on the organization you work with,” she says. “As a trip participant, you get to experience another culture, form a really unique bond with a small group of your classmates and have a ton of fun, all while doing good.”

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