Destination: Cochabamba, Bolivia

Hi all! My name is Danielle Calling, and I am excitedly counting down the days until I travel to Cochabamba, Bolivia this upcoming March. Originally, I am from Springfield, New Jersey, a small suburb about 40 minutes outside of New York City and a grueling six hours from Pittsburgh. I was raised in a tight-knit family of four, with my parents immigrating to the United States from the Philippines and instilling the importance of family and cultural values. Growing up with frequent visits to the Big Apple, I grew a fondness for the hustle and bustle of city life and focused my college search on schools located in populated areas. Pittsburgh as a city initially caught my interest, but what solidified Pitt is its unique international programs and well-renowned business school. It felt natural choosing the University of Pittsburgh then, and I cannot imagine myself elsewhere today. 

At Pitt, I am studying Finance and Business Information Systems, pursuing minors in Applied Statistics and Economics with a certificate in Business Analytics. I plan to utilize my strength with numbers to fuel my interest in analytics and finance while taking advantage of the programs Pitt Business offers. This past fall, for example, I took an Applied Business Analytics consulting course where I worked on a team of ten to implement an accurate predictive model for our client, a Fortune 500 firm. I attribute a great deal of my intellectual growth and curiosity to the experiential-based design of the course and the expertise the professor, Andy Hannah, brings. This class has helped me navigate ambiguity and given me exposure to the consulting industry, which is now the career path I would like to pursue after graduation. Additionally, I had the unique opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for two weeks last May through Pitt’s freshman Plus3 program, where we focused on the supply chain of coffee and bananas. My small team of four observed firms with the lens of planning for long-term survival and ways to overcome hurdles, such as the increasing effects of climate change. The challenges, including conducting business in a different country and living with a Spanish speaking host-mom, forced me out of my comfort zone but also piqued my international curiosity. I am grateful for the special opportunities this university extends to students to help foster academic and professional skills. 

Outside of the classroom, I am an active member of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL). Since joining in the fall of my freshman year, I have developed professional skills through networking with employers and learning from a community of hard-working and ambitious peers that will transcend throughout my college career and beyond. I have served as the Mr. Pitt Business Marketing Chair and Candidate Liaison in my first two years and plan on co-coordinating the event next fall. Members of PBL first introduced me to the Global Service Learning (GSL) in Bolivia program. The GSL Bolivia alumni shared personal stories about the focal points of their experience, which enticed me and planted the seed in my mind. Upon further research, I learned how much this program aligns with my personal, academic, and career goals, and quickly knew I had to take part. 

I am excited to be part of the Global Service Learning program, where a team of myself and seven other students consult for a non-profit organization throughout the semester and will spend Spring Break in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Our client, CEOLI, is a non-profit institution in Bolivia devoted to providing education and resources to local people with disabilities to thrive in society. This program’s mission is to help CEOLI generate sustainable revenue streams to aid in financial stability and long-term operations. We are in the fourth year of a 10-year relationship between Pitt Business and CEOLI, and we hope to expand on previous groups’ work to produce valuable deliverables for the client and future groups.  

CEOLI pursues business ventures with an entrepreneurial spirit and creates solutions to generate revenue amongst financial difficulties. One of their main sources of income is the sales from handmade greeting cards crafted by current and past students. The organization’s art program allows students to express themselves through a particular type of therapy, while also raising funds for CEOLI. They also operate a pool that serves as a medium for physical therapy for students and a gathering place for community events. Despite these creative ventures, political instability and funding cuts forced CEOLI to shorten hours of operation and reduce availability in services.

This year, we have two main focuses. First, we plan on increasing card sales by penetrating retail channels and executing personal selling techniques. Second, we will conduct research in both the United States and Bolivia to develop a business plan for the operations of a Juice Stand outside of CEOLI. 

I decided to partake in this Global Service Learning project because of the experience and skills I will develop, but also to contribute to a cause by utilizing my unique background and perspective. From this course, I expect to acquire skills that are pertinent to both my college career and professional life, such as a global perspective. In a world so interconnected and affected by globalization, this international experience will give me a global perspective that translates into the classroom and the business world. I also anticipate learning from a passionate and dedicated group of students, honing key competencies such as communication and teamwork. Professionally, I hope to pursue a career in the consulting field, and working with a non-profit client cultivates a realistic environment to develop desired skills to excel in the industry. However, as a traveler, I have personal motives outside of academia. Traveling to Bolivia will feed my international passion and provide an experience to develop a deep understanding of their fascinating culture. Nevertheless, it will push me outside of my comfort zone and force me to practice my rusty Spanish. 

I look forward to a semester filled with growth, intellectual curiosity, and a lot of card sales. An exciting adventure awaits us in Cochabamba, and this is just the beginning!