Originally published in The State News.
Michigan State’s Global Sales Leadership Society held events to raise money for ovarian cancer for years, but after a study abroad trip to Rome, Italy where students worked with refugees, society events coordinator Ashley Sipla proposed they help immigrants and refugees instead.
“If us students can make a difference for just a couple refugees, I think that would really touch the hearts of a lot of people around here and bring awareness,” Sipla said.
Money raised by the society will go to three charities benefiting refugees: St. Vincent Catholic Charities, Rights for Refugees and Refugee Outreach Collective.
“In the United States, we shadow away from (refugees), looking at it as not our problem,” said Alec Brummel, who worked as an intern for St. Vincent Catholic Charities and is a member of the society. “We should be, with our resources, going out and helping these people.”
The society will be hosting a “Dodgeball for Refugees” tournament Jan. 28 at IM East that costs $15 per person to join. Teams of six compete against each other and each member of the society is required to donate the entry fee and is encouraged to play.
Additionally, society members have been asking local businesses for donations and held a “giveback night” at Harper’s Jan. 16 where the $5 cover to enter the bar went to the charities. They also have been collecting donations from friends and family on Facebook.
Sipla hopes this first semester aiding refugees is just a starting point.
“I’d really like to see it continue to grow year after year,” Sipla said.
Keith Fitzpatrick, society board member, said the personal relationships built in the minor help raise enthusiasm.
“The minor really does bring everybody together and shed light on this (issue),” Fitzpatrick said.
MSU professor and Managing Director of the Sales Leadership Minor Jennifer Rumler has worked with refugees for years, even writing a book on the topic.
Rumler said since the society was created in 2009, graduates have had a 100% job placement in 10 of 11 years, with many earning six-figure salaries within their first few years out of school. She said working with immigrants reminds students of just how fortunate they are.
“It would be irresponsible of me to not teach them that there are millions of people in the world who will never have that opportunity,” Rumler said.
Rumler also said helping people from all over the world expands the world view of society members.
“The name of our student group is Global Sales Leadership Society, yet we don’t do a whole lot of things that are global,” Rumler said.
Brummel said he hopes society members continue to help refugees after they graduate.
“I think this is something I will continue to do every single year of my life, is to try to help refugees,” Brummel said. “My goal is to get 150 of us (society members) to have that same passion.”