Students in Dr. Manuel Rivera’s Event Management II class are using their education toward greater good and planning events with social responsibility.  Recently, his class coordinated a fundraiser for students attending the Akilah Institute for Women in Kigali, Rwanda.

The class collaborated with the Vitamin Water Zero Uncapped: Fashion Competition and Show held at the Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando.  With the cooperation of Rosen students, Neiza Court, Samantha Glock, Mary Starkey and Mallory Todd, students collected donated items and developed school supply bags for purchase from fashion show attendees. Each bag included a variety of school supplies such as notebooks, pens, pencils and tote bags.

“Participating at the fashion show was not only a good experience for developing future events, but raising $550 was a tremendous success,” said Rivera.  “The commitment from our students to help others through their experiential learning activities is a testament of their character and commitment to the industry. I am very proud of Naiza, Mallory, Mary and Samantha for their passion to help others.”

In addition to UCF representation, Akilah Development Associate, Jen DiSimone, was present at the event to provide information material and answer questions.

Most of the young women studying at the Akilah Institute were impacted by the 1994 Rwandan genocide that resulted in the murder of an estimated 1 million people in 100 days.  The young women of the Akilah Institute are pursuing degrees in hospitality management, as it is the fastest growing sector of the Rwandan economy.

Rivera shares, “The opportunity to meet and share experiences with the students from Akilah has given our students a different perspective on planning events, especially for socially responsible and philanthropic causes.”

His class isn’t stopping with just one fundraising event.  Upcoming events are planned at both the Rosen and main campuses during the week of November 7-10.  In addition to the sale of Akilah t-shirts, his students are planning a Technology and Book Drive to collect donations, books and technology equipment while providing an opportunity to the UCF community to get involved and learn about Akilah.

“Akilah” means “wisdom” in Swahili and the Institute empowers young women in East Africa to transform their lives by equipping them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become leaders and entrepreneurs. For more, please visit