The Beginning of the Road to Bolivia

My name is Michael Claricurzio and I am currently a Sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. I am majoring in Marketing and Finance, while pursuing a minor in Economics and a Certificate in Business Analytics.

Although I am studying Marketing and Finance, I don’t plan to work directly in either of these fields following my undergraduate education. I plan to work in the entertainment industry, and more specifically within the music segment. I am currently pursuing various internships with companies who manage and facilitate the sale of tickets for live events, organize and produce live events such as music festivals and concerts, and manage and produce albums for individual artists. From a very young age I’ve had a strong passion for music. I’ve seen 122 different artists live in concert, many of which I have seen multiple times. Once I had fallen in love with music, I knew I wanted to make a career out of it one day. I had two choices, miraculously become a talented musician overnight, or work behind the scenes to make sure that the live performances and the albums are released to the fans. After considering the potential success rates of my two options I chose the more realistic route of working the business side of music.

While listening to music and attending live shows takes up a lot of my free time, I do have other hobbies that have shaped who I am today as a student and as an individual. As I alluded to earlier I have no musical talent to show for, but I do however love to draw. I took four years of art classes in high school and I still put pencil to paper from time to time in college. Since I enrolled in college I haven’t had the free time I wished I would to continue to draw and improve my skills. I do, however, plan to continue to draw following my schooling, because it is something I do enjoy very much.

Along with my artistic endeavors, I was on my high school soccer and lacrosse teams and I have continued to play intramural soccer in college. A big thing that stems from my love of sports is my dedication to keeping myself healthy by running and working out. This time last year I was training for my very first marathon, which I completed last May here in Pittsburgh. Following that marathon, I trained and ran in the Philadelphia marathon last November however, I was not able to finish due to a combination sickness and lack of training. I am currently training and planning to redeem myself at the upcoming Pittsburgh marathon in May.

While running, playing sports, and attending concerts are very enjoyable, I do also value the down-time I spend reading. I love to read and although it is hard to find time throughout the semester being as busy of a student as I am, I always make it a priority to read even just a small amount every day. I love reading books about all topics, but my favorites seem to fall within the topics of; psychology, consumer behavior, marketing, self-help, managing people and lastly, books about how to build better and more worthwhile friendships and relationships. Some of my personal favorites are Thinking Fast and Slow, Tools of Titans, Steal Like an Artist, and Principles.

The last and probably biggest thing that has shaped me as a student and more so as a professional here on Pitt’s campus is Delta Sigma Pi. I joined Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity, during my fall semester freshman year. DSP has helped me in many ways, but I’ve have noticed the largest impact on my professional development. When I first joined I wasn’t confident in my ability to speak with business professionals at career fairs, send a professional email, or perform well in an interview. However, after joining DSP I have received lots of help and feedback from my brothers regarding the things I mentioned prior and many more. DSP also motivates me to be the best I can be professionally, because I surround myself with peers who are doing that themselves, which over time has rubbed off on me.

Last semester I decided to commit a large portion on my time this semester to a service learning class offered by Pitt Business that is partnered with Amizade and CEOLI. Amizade is non-profit that partners with local high schools and universities to create effective service learning programs that benefit organizations and non-profits globally. CEOLI is a non-profit striving to promote the education and integration of disabled children in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I have always strived to help those who are less fortunate than myself and to give back to surrounding communities in any way I can, so I immediately reached out to see how I could get involved with this program.

I chose to participate in this program for many reasons, the first of which is that I want to travel to as many places as I can throughout my life. I am very intrigued by foreign cultures and the differences between them and the culture that we have here in the United States. I have come to find that there is never one correct way to do anything, and that learning from as many different perspectives as possible is one of the best ways to effectively educate yourself. One of my main goals of the trip is to learn more about Bolivian culture and to finish the program with an even more open-minded perspective of the world than I currently have now.

While we are in Bolivia we will be working very closely with CEOLI’s employees along with the children who attend the school and programs they offer. I am very much looking forward to spending time with these kids, as I have friends who have completed this program before me and they couldn’t stop raving about how much fun they had with the children. Additionally, I am looking forward to spending time with the employees of CEOLI and working with them to make recommendations on their business ventures as well as learning about the way they conduct business. As I mentioned previously, there is no one correct way to do anything and I look forward to seeing how Bolivian business practices differ from the ones of the United States and what I can learn from them.

Service learning programs are very unique because as they are designed to help and promote a specific cause or organization, they also educate the students who participate in them. As I plan to further educate myself about the foreign culture of Bolivia, I hope to develop my professional and academic skills as well. It has been proven that service learning courses are more effective at developing student’s necessary skills such as leadership, open-mindedness, as well as increasing cognitive and writing abilities. I plan to take personal accountability and express stewardship of everything that I and my team produce on our quest to help CEOLI, I also greatly look forward to receiving the benefits that students have been proven to acquire throughout the process. I can’t wait for spring break to come and for our in-country experience to begin.