Mount Saint Mary College Business students recently used their knowledge of finance to aid the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM), a group of sisters dedicated to the education and service of the poor.
Thomas Fitzmaurice, assistant professor of Finance at the Mount, tasked his Seminar in Finance class to aid the RJM sisters in their Care for Creation Project. The project's goal, said Tracey Niemotko, professor of Accounting at the Mount and member of the Care for Creation Committee, is "to explore options for the beautiful 70-acre Bethany parcel in Highland Mills to share the beauty of nature and its reflection of the Creator with the community."
The students' ideas for the property were varied, ranging from haunted walks in the fall and year-round farmers markets to hosting weddings and renting the cottages on the property out as Airbnb vacation locations.
The students provided the important details to bring these ideas to fruition, such as the cost of liability insurance, methods of advertisement, the need to create a website for the Care for Creation Project, and more.
This capstone project is an example of how students at the Mount are taught to apply their classwork in real-life, practical situations. It is also just one of the many ways in which the Mount's School of Business prepares students for careers that emphasize service.
"You don't want [students] coming out of school thinking, 'Whatever it takes to make money,'" noted Fitzmaurice. "It's more than just telling them 'you have to give back.' They have to run the numbers and see how these businesses might struggle and how they really work."
Service was at the heart of each project. For example, one group suggested turning the land into an organic farm where they could partner with a volunteer agricultural program "with nearby schools to help interest children at a young age about the importance of a healthy agricultural environment," suggested student Kevin Pacheco of Watertown, Conn.
After watching each group's presentation, Niemotko noted, "Over the course of your careers, you will make money, inevitably. But you make us so proud to hear that you appreciate the importance of giving back."
She added, "Sharing your talents, your abilities for the better good, and really for the benefit of others – that's really what we want you to leave with at the Mount. That's really our mission."
The Religious of Jesus and Mary is an international congregation of Catholic sisters who have shared the Church's mission in the United States since 1877. They serve in various educational, pastoral, social and spiritual ministries.