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Kassi Brownlow and Joe Munayer

SSU Students Spend Spring Break Making a Difference

kassi_joe_low.jpgKassi Brownlow and Joe Munayer, both students in Sonoma State's School of Business and Economics, spent their spring break participating in the Maximum Impact program and traveled to Memphis, Tennessee. The program is a joint effort between Deloitte LLP and Teach for America, a group that aims to help children who are growing up in poverty get an excellent education. The students were two of only twenty-five students chosen from universities across the country to join the program.

"We were the only Northern California school represented, no other schools were invited," said Joe Standridge, an accounting professor in the School of Business and Economics. "This was a huge honor and acknowledgement of our program." Sonoma State was chosen to represent Northern California, while USC represented Southern California.

The Maximum Impact program is a four-day alternative spring break trip, on which students from schools across the country travel to help students in need. Participants work with schools and students that face education inequity ─ that is, where a child is born can determine their educational, and therefore life, outcomes. Memphis, like many other areas in the US, has large funding gaps in their school districts.

"This trip has reminded me of how fortunate I am for having the opportunity to attend college and have people believe in my ability to succeed," said Munayer, a sophomore at SSU. "I had the honor of interacting with young students at some of the most troubled schools in the nation, and they have no idea how much potential they have."

There were over 700 applicants in all, and students were selected through a competitive process based on their resumes, school participation, leadership skills, an essay response, as well as their individual interviews conducted on campus.

"We were able to give back and help the movement towards closing the education gap," said Brownlow. Also only a sophomore, she has just recently declared Accounting and is already setting herself ahead by participating in programs like this. Brownlow also works as an intern for the Career Center at the School of Business and Economics.

Both Munayer and Brownlow are members of the Accounting Forum, the largest academic club on campus, with over 100 members every semester. The trip was a great opportunity for students to network and work alongside members of the Deloitte team.

During this alternative spring break trip, Brownlow and Munayer worked both in the classroom directly with students, and on beautification projects at several schools, creating a more positive atmosphere for learning.

"It is wrong that the zip code they live in judges the opportunities placed in front of them, this perpetuates the poverty cycle," said Munayer.

While both students made an impact on the lives of children facing education inequity, it seems the trip had quite the impact on them as well.

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