Hi everyone! My name is Brad Thornton, and once again I am getting an amazing opportunity to travel abroad through the programs that Pitt Business offers. This time I will be able to check off a new continent as I will be traveling to Cochabamba, Bolivia this March during spring break. I am from Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, which is a small town about 40 minutes south of Pittsburgh. I am an avid sports fan and always cheer on the hometown teams of the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates no matter how bad they may be doing. Growing up outside Pittsburgh made me appreciate where I am from and was one of the main reasons that I wanted to come to the University of Pittsburgh.
I am a sophomore in Pitt Business studying Finance and Business Information Systems while pursuing a certificate in Leadership and Ethics. While at Pitt, I am continuing to try and use the advantages and opportunities that they provide by joining clubs and organizations, in addition to going on trips and programs to get more experience and grow as an individual and professional. Last May, I had the opportunity to travel internationally for the first time in my life as I went to South Korea as part of the Plus 3 program. This was one of the best experiences of my life as I got to see a new country and culture while going on site visits to companies and going on cultural visits to historical and local sites throughout four cities in South Korea. Some of the companies that we got to visit were Samsung Biologics, Hyundai, and NAVER, which is like the Google of South Korea. Within each city we got to see different cultural sites including temples, palaces, street markets, a river cruise and many more. One of my favorite experiences on the trip was when we got the opportunity to go to the border between North and South Korea, also known as the Demilitarized Zone. After this experience I knew that I wanted to continue to travel and see more places and meet new people around the world.
On campus, I am involved in a professional business organization called Phi Beta Lambda where I can use a lot of the events and opportunities within service and professional development to grow and develop as a professional and student. As a freshman, I wanted to get involved as quick as possible and joined a committee team who organized an annual charity basketball tournament with Dick’s Sporting Goods and then ran for a leadership position. This year I served as a member of the Leadership Team in the position of Vice President of Internal Professional Development. In this role, I am responsible for setting up the professional development events and opportunities by reaching out to alumni, recruiters, and companies to have them come in and share their knowledge and experiences with our members to help them develop professionally. This has been an amazing opportunity for me as I have gained a lot of experience as a leader and as a professional beginning my career within the next few years. In addition, Phi Beta Lambda has given me the opportunity to build new friendships that I will have for years to come. My experiences and friendships in Phi Beta Lambda taught me about the opportunities in Global Service Learning and CEOLI as many members participated on the trip in the past.
My professional and work experience comes mostly from my job that I do while on campus during each semester and through some of my class projects. During the semester, I am a finance intern at Sodexo, where I work in the finance and accounting office where I get a lot of experience with their services and conducting audits for the different vendors. This is a great opportunity to get work experience while also doing classes, so that I get both real-world experience and gain knowledge in classes. Some of the projects that I have gotten to do was through the certificate program in leadership and ethics, which included consulting projects with clients such as University programs and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. This work has helped me a lot and motivated me to continue doing consulting work with other clients such as CEOLI.
The Global Service Learning Bolivia program is a semester-long project where students focus on consulting for an organization in Bolivia named CEOLI. CEOLI is a non-profit organization whose mission is focused on working with Bolivians with disabilities and helping them in any way possible including various educational and therapeutic opportunities. This program is part of a ten year plan between Pitt Business and CEOLI, and one of our main focuses during this year, year four, is to help CEOLI generate revenue while building towards financial stability. One way that CEOLI can generate revenue is through sales of cards created by current students and alumni of CEOLI. Additionally, we will be working with CEOLI while developing a business plan for a juice stand that will be located on-site at CEOLI to create more business and support their customers, students, and other members of the community.
I wanted to take this course for a plethora of reasons as it can help me grow in numerous ways. This program can allow me to develop a greater global awareness and competency, while also growing professional and personally. Another one of the main reasons was that I heard so much about the experience from past students, who told me how much it has helped them and why it is such a great opportunity for students. In addition, I do have a strong passion for consulting, as I hope to do similar work in my future career, and I believe this is a great chance to get more experience and prepare. I hope to get a lot out of this experience as I know how much this can impact my career goals, my passion for travel and global competency, and some of the friendships that I will make throughout this program and trip.
I am so excited for this opportunity and a semester full of growth and numerous new experiences as we get the chance to make an impact on an organization as important as CEOLI. I hope you stick with me through my travels to Cochabamba, Bolivia and get to learn a lot about what we do and my experiences.