Last week at the Net Impact Conference in San Jose, the Smith Undergraduate Net Impact chapter (SUNI) at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business was awarded 2013 Undergraduate National Chapter of the Year. The Net Impact conference is a national convening of nearly 3,000 students and professional leaders using their careers to change the world. The conference is hosted by Net Impact, a nonprofit membership organization for students and professionals interested in using business skills in support of various social and environmental causes.
After being nominated for Undergraduate Chapter of the Year this past summer, SUNI sent six Smith student representatives to the Net Impact Conference. Being nominated and then eventually winning Chapter of the Year gave these six students several incredible opportunities. SUNI President, Austin Lee, presented the chapter to the Net Impact Board of Directors which include executives from Campbell's Soup Company and the Founder/CEO of KaBOOM. SUNI members were also invited to a small group discussion for Campbell’s CEO, Denise Morrison, and an exclusive lunch with Net Impact sponsors, board of directors, and company executives.
Two other schools were in contention for Undergraduate Chapter of Year: California State University, Chico and Texas State University. Both have been around for some years, which made SUNI the youngest chapter to be nominated. SUNI is still less than a year old. The chapter formed in January 2013 after several Smith School undergraduates were inspired at the 2012 Net Impact Conference in Baltimore. “It really validates everything that we’ve done,” said Austin Lee, president of SUNI, when asked about winning chapter of the year. “It shows our chapter and shows me that it doesn’t matter if you’re a new chapter or an old chapter. It just matters how much work you put into it and just having that genuine passion.”
Also in attendance were 12 members of the Smith MBA Net Impact chapter, who hosted a dinner for University of Maryland alumni attending the conference. SUNI members were invited as well, giving both Smith Undergraduates and MBAs the opportunity to engage with alumni in the social impact space.
So where does a chapter go after winning Chapter of the Year in its first year? Maintaining energy and enthusiasm in the space as well as developing more skills building and social impact job opportunities are priorities for Austin Lee. “We’ve done a great job educating. We need to try and move from that to equipping and employing.”
- Ryan Steinbach, Center for Social Value Creation