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Undergraduates Take on Beautification Projects in Miami

October 07, 2010
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Business United DayIt’s 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and while most students are still asleep, freshman Kyle Brantley is already wide awake, preparing for the 2010 Business United Day.  Brantley, along with over 350 of his classmates in the School’s FIRST Step program, are dedicating their Saturday to reaching out to improve sites throughout the Miami area.

“We’re pumped, we’re really excited that we are getting to help out an elementary school that really needs it,” said  Brantley, who was assigned to help plant trees, shrubs, and paint classrooms at Jesse E. McCrary Elementary School.  The school is located in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood and on September 25 business school students gave back by improving the aesthetics of the school in hopes that the additions will help make the school a more welcoming environment for its students.

“We just want to make this a place where kids want to succeed and want to be here,” Brantley said.

In addition to sprucing up the elementary school, the students worked at six other sites throughout Miami.  Students picked up trash in Overtown in conjunction with the Funder’s Network, repaired and painted a home of an elderly person in South Miami, painted and performed trim work with Rebuilding Together on a home in Homestead, and helped remove exotic species and plant new plants with The Tropical Audubon Society.

The Business United Day was part of FIRST Step, a required freshman course in which student teams are also paired with area community groups for the entire fall semester.  FIRST Step ,short for freshman integrity, responsibility and success through teamwork, aims to expose students to business ethical principles, teamwork and the challenges that organizations face.

One artistic endeavor that students undertook during Business United Day was to help restore a mural painted alongside the Miami River.  The mural, which was originally painted by local artist Xavier Cortada in 2003, depicts a beautiful sunset on the waterfront and was originally part of a program by the Miami River Commission to bring back attention to the restoration and beautification of the Miami River.  Students repainted parts of the mirror where paint had worn away or was chipping and brought the mural back to its original grandeur.

“We’re usually spending time in Coral Gables, which is a nice area,” said freshman Shane Bornstein ‘. “This project makes us realize that everyone can give back and it’s satisfying to know that we’re doing something good for the community.”

Student government president Christina Farmer, a senior who was on hand to help oversee the work at the site, praised students for the impact their work had on the community.

“It’s really good to realize how much this means to the community,” she said. “They needed our help and we used our skills to make a difference.  We forget about that sometimes with school and work and this is our time to give back.”

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