Ten years ago, Patricia Angulo was working at Bethel University, and she had the opportunity and pleasure of teaching and mentoring Lutunji Abram. Abram was in the Master’s in Organizational Leadership program, and Angulo was her professor and thesis adviser. Abram had always been passionate about teen parents and reducing the high school dropout rate, so she chose to write about it for her project.
“Abram was one of my hardest working students,” Angulo said. “She was persistent and creative with everything she did.”
Fast forward ten years. Abram took her dream and turned it into a realty by starting the organization Voices of Effective Change. Still in contact with Angulo, who is now an adjunct instructor with Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center, the two women spoke about her need for a marketing plan, and an applied learning project was born. According to Angulo, “Lutunji needed a marketing plan for her business, but she has never had the time or the resources to put one together. When I learned that I would be teaching a marketing class this quarter, I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity for my students and Voices of Effective Change to collaborate.”
Abram met with a small group of three students and shared with them what it is she does. Voices of Effective Change offers many services to young teens such as transportation, educational and employment assistance, and community outreach. As Abram listed the services offered, student Brandon Snediker was astounded at just how many things she does for young people. “Lutunji cares so much for those that she works with and will do anything for anyone. She is an amazing woman,” he said.
So why does she have this passion? Abram was a teen parent, and she kept hope. “I was blessed to have amazing leaders in my life who saw me as a diamond in the rough. No one ever turned their backs on me. I was surrounded with love, and the idea that education was the passport to escaping poverty. Education was pounded in my head, and now I want to show teens that as well. I want to show them their potential just as I was shown when I was young,” Abram said.
Snediker and his classmates Chris Carroll and Anthony Highstrom listened to Abram’s creative voice and really tried to get a grasp on what she was looking for and how to best market the organization. Snediker and Carroll, both students working towards an Associate in Applied Science in business administration, worked on creating a Facebook account as well as a website. Highstrom put together an iMovie with testimonials from several individuals who have worked with Voices of Effective Change.
Carroll said, “It was really interesting to learn how to communicate with a client and attempt to figure out what they want. Taking what I heard and interpreting the information into what the client wanted was a learning experience. We helped give life to her vision.”
“Shooting the interviews and hearing people’s perspectives on Lutunji taught me to be grateful for what I have. It was powerful to see members of her speaker’s bureau who also want to help with the mission. Overall, it was a great challenge to take these powerful interviews, edit them, and ensure that everyone’s points came across,” Highstrom said. (Highstrom will soon graduate with an Associate in Applied Science in health fitness specialist.)
Earlier this week, the three students had the chance to present their marketing plan to not only Abram but several community members, including employees of the City of Minneapolis, a member of the Minneapolis school board, individuals from KMOJ radio station, and Voices of Effective Change board members. The printed marketing material was passed out, and the social media pieces were shared.
Angulo shared, “All three students did a fantastic job with their project. They self-selected which pieces to work on, and while some of them chose pieces outside of their comfort zone, each stepped up to the plate to make sure that every piece fell into place. Lutunji was definitely the creative mind with this, but my students handled the rest. I am really proud of their work!”
“Working with these men was an extremely genuine experience, and I had the most amazing time with them. I learned so much from these three,” Abram said. “With Chris specifically, I learned how to be patient with joy. I learned from Anthony to just go with the flow. Brandon taught me that everything will be not just okay in the end but great. Each showed me so much patience. At the end, everything came together and was exactly what I had been looking for. None of these students had taken marketing before, and the fact that they understood what I wanted and worked with that was fantastic. I appreciate them, the amount of young energy that they had, and that our common goal was achieved.”
The three students are putting final touches on the Facebook site and the website, and they hope it is successful for how Abram wants to use it. For more information on Voices of Effective Change, how to volunteer with the organization, or to look into an internship, please check out the website and/or the Facebook page.
Thank you to Lutunji Abram for allowing our students the opportunity to assist you!