A Want to Travel. A Desire to Help.

Hi Everyone! My name is Francheska Pokora, and I simply cannot wait to embark on my trip to Puerto this coming March. I apologize in advance for the excessive exclamation points and excitement this blog post may entail as that is truly a genuine representation of how I am feeling now as I write this.  I already said it once, but I’ll say it again, I CANNOT WAIT!

A Little About Me

         To just give a brief background about myself, I am a Junior Human Resources and Supply Chain Management student at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of Business Administration.  The human resources major at Pitt was extremely appealing to me as I began my decision of what on earth to major in.  The aspects of helping people every day and changing the lives of others really drew me to the field.  My biggest goal in life is to wake up each day and engage in a career that I am not only passionate about, but one that also includes helping people daily.  In human resources, this could mean hiring someone for a job position, training them on a new task, or rewarding them for a job well done.  I tacked on my Supply Chain Management major as a way to market myself as an analytical candidate.  I enjoy using mathematics and analytical skills regularly and could see myself incorporating those skills into my future career as well.  This summer, I look forward to expanding my skills in the human resources management field during an internship with PNC.

As far as what I do outside of school, I am currently a cheerleader for the University.  As you can probably imagine, this takes up a great deal of my time.  However, I love being able to represent the University in such a positive way.  I also grew up around sports and really enjoy being a part of all of Pitt’s different sporting events.  Besides cheerleading, I love to spend other free time of mine baking with my roommates. We bake so much some people may even say we have a slight problem…oh well!  If you are reading this and love a good baked treat, we do take requests!  One more thing that I am truly passionate about is my family.  I love being with them any chance I get.  My two siblings are really my best friends, and my mom is practically a sister.  I love them so much, and they are such a huge part of who I am!

I may have visited all the countries of Epcot, but I have never left the United States!

Never Left The Country?!

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, and yes, I practically do bleed black and gold… maybe even blue and gold now that I attend Pitt.  When in high school choosing where I wanted to complete my post-secondary education, I knew I needed to stay right here in this amazing city.  Therefore, Pitt was my number one choice.  When I got accepted, there was pretty much no decision at all.  I knew Pitt was the school for me.  However, as I was approaching my junior year at Pitt, I had this feeling that something was missing.  Did I make the wrong decision in choosing a college?  Of course not.  But was I feeling like I was missing out on other areas of the world by secluding myself to the good old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?  Yes.

   In fact, it kind of pains me to admit this, but I have never been out of the country.  In my (almost) twenty one years of life, I have never ventured out of the United States.  That hurts! When attending a college such as Pitt, it seems like everyone around you has just gotten back from or is preparing for a trip abroad.  This really got me thinking.  

At the beginning of this past fall semester, I scheduled an appointment with Hillary Koller, one of the Pitt Business International Programs leaders.  She was incredibly helpful in discussing any study abroad options that would be feasible with my busy cheerleading schedule.  When taking a look at the Spring Break options, I knew this was something I had to do.  In the end, I was chosen for the Puerto Rico Spring Break 2019 study abroad trip.  It may technically still be U.S. territory, but it is certainly the new cultural experience that I have been desperately craving.

What Will I Be Doing?

This study abroad trip I have chosen is part of Pitt Business’s Service Learning curriculum.  This means that during this Spring semester, I will be taking a class based on how engaging in meaningful service enriches education.  Because a portion of this class is out of country, it is considered the Global portion of Service Learning.  Each week in class we learn about service learning as a whole, its benefits, and also work on our semester long projects.

The project I am working on with three other colleagues is very detailed and extensive, but something I find great interest in.  Like I mentioned previously, I really do strive to help others, especially those who are less fortunate than myself.  This project combines using my business, leadership, and critical thinking skills with my desire to help those in need.

Specifically, we will be working in partnership with an organization called Caras con Causa.  They are extremely involved in a lesser developed area of Puerto Rico called Catano.  Here, Caras lives out their mission of “Social Justice through Education” by providing the local youth with after school programs and tutoring workshops to keep them educated and safe.  Our goal while working with Caras is to help them determine the feasibility of creating an environmental laboratory on the Catano wetlands.  We will use our knowledge from other business classes to perform SWOT analyses, cost analyses, and marketing recommendations for the supposed laboratory.  We will also most importantly include the mission of Caras and develop ways that the community’s youth with benefit from this project.

My WHY

Because of my hankering for travel and want to help others, this was the perfect course for me to take this semester.  I look forward to arriving in-country and seeing truly what else the world has to offer beyond what I’m used to.  I am excited to immerse myself in a culture other than my own and see how people of another country work together each day.  This course has already increased my knowledge and skills greatly in aspects such as teamwork, communication, adapting to new cultures, and of course, the whole notion of service learning.  These are skills that I can definitely see myself transferring into other classes at Pitt as well as into my future career someday.  To be able to come back from Puerto Rico in March and just have the words to talk about what I wonder experience I know it will be is enough to make me stand out as a potential job candidate.  I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity, and I know that it will help me in an immense amount of ways in my future.

Thank You for Reading!