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Creator of the Pilsen Community Small Business Owner Education Workshop Series
Small businesses are the embodiment of the American dream. Monica C. Gavino, Ph.D. has been doing her part to cultivate small business through an initiative of the Graham School of Management, which supports the University’s commitment to serve our community.
Dr. Gavino, associate professor in the Graham School of Management, developed the
Pilsen Community Small Business Owner Education Workshop Series last year to
provide training and education to Latino and minority business owners in the Pilsen community.
Dr. Gavino has her doctorate in Human Resources Management as well as over 20 years’ experience in the HR field as a human resources executive, consultant and researcher. Her areas of interest and research include small business owners and Latino entrepreneurs, diversity and inclusion in organizations, and the impact of HR practices on organizational performance.
Entrepreneurship research shows there are various factors that influence a business’s performance including the entrepreneur’s demographic, psychological, and behavioral characteristics as well as managerial and technical skills. For example, research finds minority and female owners have little pre-business ownership experience. Dr. Gavino’s own research finds that minority business owners are less likely to have access to resources or to utilize them.
Attending training workshops and seminars is one approach to further developing the skills and competencies necessary to be successful. She designed this program to provide small business owners with tools and resources they need to increase the success of their businesses and the vitality of their community.
Built in conjunction with the Greater Pilsen Economic Development Association, LISC Chicago and the Resurrection Project, and sponsored by First Midwest Bank, Best Buy, St. Aubin Haggerty and Associates, Groupon, Star Diamond and Great Lakes Financial Partners, the first workshop series was held in November 2012. Twenty nine business owners worked with program faculty to conduct needs assessments and received hands-on practice and feedback on writing a business plan. The workshop also covered other critical aspects of sustaining a business, including financing and lender options, compliance, taxes and recordkeeping, use of technology and social media, marketing and promoting their businesses and hiring and getting the most from their employees.
“They helped me think about how to focus on what people are interested in at the store, what makes us special,” said Leticia Rodarte, proprietor of Reciclarte Studio in Pilsen. “The economy is bad; it might be hard to pay for a painting. But they like coming in and seeing what we have. So we’ve added bookmarks with my art, and we’re offering classes too, for people who are interested in doing hand arts. My business has done a 180-degree turn for the better.”
Many of the same small business owners returned in November 2013 for a follow-up series of workshops, again in association with the Greater Pilsen Economic Development Association and sponsored by First Midwest Bank, The Private Bank and The Resurrection Project. Because small business owners often times do not have the ability to judge the financial situations of their businesses in order to make the most effective decision for their money management, participants focused on building their financial literacy. Presenters stressed understanding credit scores and offered tips for improving them, explained what lenders look for on balance sheets, cash flow statements and income statements and provided details on managing taxes.
“We’ve gotten such amazingly positive feedback from the businesses,” Dr. Gavino said. “What’s really awesome, though, is that everyone keeps coming back...that’s how we know the workshops are working."
The Pilsen Community Small Business Owner Education Workshop Series is just one of the ways Saint Xavier University impacts the greater community and serves as a resource to help people achieve their dreams.
What were you doing at 2 a.m. yesterday? Sleeping would be the most logical answer for many. For Andrianna, a junior from Chicago's Auburn Gresham neighborhood, the answer was "studying for calculus."
Such dedication to her studies is nothing out of the ordinary for Andrianna. She is routinely up early in the morning, or late at night depending on your perspective, reviewing her notes for calculus, organic chemistry or biology. It's all a part of Andrianna's dream to become a neurosurgeon.
"Since 7th grade, I've talked about becoming a neurosurgeon. Two doctors talked to our class during a career day. Their stories about finding their passion in life served as an epiphany for me. I've always liked helping people and had an interest in first aid. After hearing the doctors I thought to myself, 'Yes, I can do this. I can be a doctor.' It just seemed like the perfect fit."
"I love the brain – how it controls every function in the body. It fascinates me, so I knew I wanted to do something related to the brain. Also, I grew up watching medical dramas like ER, so that influenced me, too. People have told me that I may change my mind, but I've never wanted to do anything else than become a neurosurgeon."
The middle of three children, Andrianna's parents always pushed her to go to college because they didn't have the same opportunity for themselves. They wanted her to get a good education that would lead to a long lasting career and allow her to support herself. In fact, it was Andrianna's mother who strongly advocated for her to attend Saint Xavier University.
"I was accepted to a number of universities and wanted to go out of state, but my mom felt staying closer to home would be the best decision for me. I'm really glad I decided to come here. I've gained so much more than I thought I would. The faculty and staff really care about students. It's not just going to class and going through the motions to get a degree. I feel like I've really grown up and matured and I've been exposed to so much more than I thought I would before I got here."
"I expected college to be as it is portrayed on TV and in the movies – lots of parties, not much studying – but it has been the exact opposite at SXU. Here, it's really academically focused. The courses are rigorous."
Two of the most challenging classes Andrianna has taken, a biology course with Dr. Tatiana Tatum-Parker and an English class with Dr. Shannon Ambrose, have turned out to be among her favorites.
"I've never been pushed as much as I was in those classes. They're my favorite because I felt like I learned so much about myself and what I could do. Now, whenever I have a difficult class, I think back to what I learned in those classes and how I persevered."
Outside of her studies, the biochemistry major is involved with activities on campus, with her church and in her community. Andrianna is a member of the Chemistry Club and the Student Success Program, a program federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance and support to students who are low income and first-generation or low income students with disabilities. She actively participates in Campus Ministry through service trips and women's retreats.
Andrianna is involved with the Apostolic Church of Christ's health and wellness ministry and its monthly health seminars. As it relates to her professional goals, Andrianna is a volunteer at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She has spent time working in both the emergency room and the pediatric intensive care unit.
Like 95 percent of Saint Xavier students, Andrianna relies on scholarships, grants and loans in order to pay tuition and pursue her professional goals.
"Thank God for donors. I thank them for all the assistance they provide to students at SXU. They are truly making a difference for students like me each and every time they donate to our school."
Saint Xavier students are an exceptional group of women and men who are passionate about what they do, concerned about our world and committed to making a difference for others. Andrianna is a wonderful example of our mission and core values in action.
Each year, generous alumni and friends support our talented and hardworking students. Without your support, our students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, would not be able to afford a Saint Xavier University education or college in general. Your gifts matter.
Below, Rosie shares her story of why she chose to attend Saint Xavier, what her education means to her and what she plans to do after graduation.
Rosie is a sophomore studying clinical psychology and her goal is to earn her Ph.D. in this growing field. She chose to attend Saint Xavier because it is close to her home and, given its size, she knew she could expect one-on-one interactions with her professors.
Rosie has taken advantage of the numerous opportunities to get involved on campus. Currently, she is serving as an Orientation Leader and a Transitions Peer Mentor. She is also a member of Mercy Students for Peace and Justice, Alpha and Omega, and volunteers for the S.T.A.T. projects on campus.
But, without the support of donors, like you, Rosie would not be able to attend Saint Xavier. Like so many of our students, Rosie and her family rely on financial assistance to pay for tuition, books and other fees that come with a Saint Xavier education. Rosie explains the importance of her financial support quite simply, "Scholarships decide whether I attend college or not. They honestly determine my future."
Rosie would like all of our donors to know how truly grateful she is for your support:
I would like to thank you for all you have already done to help. Also, I would like to encourage you to continue. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I need all the help I can get. Lastly, may God bless you.
Greg and Adrienne Jablonowski are the proud parents of Adam, a 2010 Saint Xavier University graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Grace, a junior in the Graham School of Management.
If you were to speak with Greg and Adrienne about their children and the experiences they have had at Saint Xavier University, you will likely hear of the accessibility of professors, community-feel of campus, and the overall approachable attitude of each person on campus.
The faculty at Saint Xavier, in many ways, shaped Adam's future and are doing the same for Grace. Greg and Adrienne explained that when Adam and Grace came home, they would rave about their instructors. They knew their children were being challenged. This challenge and accessibility of professors brought out the best in Adam and Grace—it bestowed a confidence upon them that they may not have gotten at a larger university.
Greg, Adrienne, Adam and Grace also love that Saint Xavier feels more like a community than a University. As parents, Greg and Adrienne believe that the great friends their children have made are a reflection of the environment they are in on campus—warm, inviting, safe, and helpful.
The Jablonowski family is also among the loyal supporters of Saint Xavier. After paying tuition and other college expenses, many people may wonder why the Jablonowskis support SXU. Their answer is quite simple:
We see the positive impact Saint Xavier University had on Adam, and continues to have on Grace, both intellectually and spiritually. SXU has brought such joy to our family, and we want future students and families to experience this, also. Donating to the school is our way of saying thank-you for all our children gained.
Greg and Adrienne's advice to future students is to get involved! The experiences that Adam and Grace had thus far on campus would not have been possible if they had not been involved and active.
And, for future and current parents, realize that no matter what size of contribution you make, you are helping someone—a student, a family, or both.
Amber Prskalo, a junior in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program chose SXU for those exact same reasons and has loved Saint Xavier since her first day on campus. A very involved student, Amber is President of the Resident Housing Association, a Transitions Peer Mentor, a FOCUS leader, and a Resident Peer Minister. She sits on the board for the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and is helping to form the Best Buddies Organization on campus. Ambitiously, she is also training to serve as the Student Ambassador Special Visit Coordinator.
While hard work, impeccable time management skills, and determination have enabled her to balance a hectic schedule, Amber credits scholarships and donors for her successes. She says, "Without having the scholarship I received, I truly believe I would not be here today. My scholarship definitely made a difference in my life, and without receiving one I would not have succeeded as well in school."
Amber is hopeful that she will be admitted to Saint Xavier's highly competitive graduate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders. After graduate school, she plans to work in a hospital as a speech pathologist, and eventually pursue her Doctorate degree after raising a family.
Amber would like everyone, donors and non-donors, to know this:
Saying "thank you" to the donors is not enough. Words cannot even match the feelings
I have for the donations they have made to Saint Xavier University. They impact the
lives of so many students here in more ways than one can imagine. They have given
the chance to so many first generation college students, like myself, to pursue anything
we want in life. Without their donations, this would not be possible. So, to them,
thank you for making a difference in the lives of the students here at Saint Xavier,
like myself, and God Bless!
Natalie Hoffman '06 was the first official member of the newly formed X-Club Giving Society at Saint Xavier University. The X-Club recognizes undergraduate alumni who graduated in the past 10 years and who support the Saint Xavier Fund with an annual gift of $30 or more.
Natalie made her first gift to the University in Fall 2012. She supports the University because, as she says,
I had such a great time while at SXU. I received an education that opened so many doors for me. During nursing interviews when I mentioned Saint Xavier University, I knew I had that job! It is also where I made amazing friends that will last me my lifetime.
Natalie, a School of Nursing alumna who was very involved on campus, enjoyed her time at SXU. She appreciated the "tight knight community" and that teachers actually knew and recognized her as "Natalie" instead of just knowing her as a number.
Her wonderful experiences are only part of the reason she decided to support Saint Xavier. To Natalie, giving to SXU means, "I am allowing someone to have the same and maybe even better experiences than I did. Those experiences are invaluable."
For current students, Natalie has some words of wisdom:
This is going to be the best and hardest time in your life. All that you do now will help to shape you as a person and allow you to make an impact in the world. Don't waste it! And don't forget to enjoy the journey.
If you are an alum who is considering making your first gift, Natalie says to donate to "help students put their footprints on SXU—just as you were allowed to do!"
Dale Fast, Ph.D., holds many titles at Saint Xavier University. His administrative and teaching responsibilities are not the only way Dr. Fast supports students. He is also a long-time donor, and a member of the President's Club -- Saint Xavier's leadership giving society.He is the Associate Provost, Dean of Graduate Education, and a professor of biological sciences. Each of these positions has allowed him to interact with Saint Xavier University's most valuable assets: our students.
Growing up, Dr. Fast's parents instilled in him a philanthropic spirit that has stayed with him throughout his life. He supports Saint Xavier because "the dollars have a direct impact on students' lives."
As a man who has spent 30 years teaching in the Department of Biological Sciences and 7 years in administration, the students are what continue to fascinate and inspire Dr. Fast. When describing Saint Xavier's students, he explains, "Many of the students who come to Saint Xavier are average students but they leave as more than average members of society." Saint Xavier gives these students the opportunity they need to become contributing members of our communities.
But, Saint Xavier cannot provide these opportunities without the generosity of our donors, like Dr. Fast. Saint Xavier's donors help to provide 94 percent of undergraduate students with the financial assistance they need to finish their college education. If you are considering making a gift, of any size, to the University, take Dr. Fast's advice:
"Don't look at giving as something you do when you get to the end of the year and have some time or money left over. Start with a commitment to donate time or money and make do with the time and money that is left."
If you are interested in learning more about the President's Club, please contact Jill Roggeveen at 773-298-3317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opportunities and dreams. Here at Saint Xavier University, these words are taken very seriously. We work relentlessly to give our students the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
Take, for example, Brittany Jones. She is a senior psychology major, biology minor. Her goal is to earn her Ph.D. in dolphin cognition and communication, leading to a career as a research director at a marine mammal facility or as a college professor. Even with such a focused passion, Brittany has found the opportunity at Saint Xavier to make her dreams come true.
Brittany was selected to intern at Dolphins Plus last summer in Key Largo, Florida. In her position, she worked on a multitude of research projects on Atlantic bottle nose dolphins. She got to swim with the dolphins weekly as she helped train them, and was even present and transcribing notes for the birth of a dolphin! During her internship, Brittany was mentored and recently found out that she has been accepted into the University of Southern Mississippi's Experimental Psychology Ph.D. program for Fall 2012. Saint Xavier University opened the doors for Brittany's future career in marine mammal behavior and cognition.
Brittany is active both in and out of the classroom, demonstrating the flexibility and dependability of our students. She is a starting forward and record-holder for the women's basketball team, president of the Student Government Association, and a biology research assistant for Dr. Appelt and Dr. Carey. These activities have provided her with many fond memories at Saint Xavier, but the two she holds closest to her heart are speaking at President Wiseman's inauguration ceremony and beating Union University (Tennessee), a #1 ranked team, her sophomore year.
Brittany is also a scholarship recipient. When asked what scholarships mean to her, Brittany's first answer was very simple—"Everything." She explained that if she did not receive scholarships, she would not have been able to afford to attend Saint Xavier. Furthermore, her ability to graduate in a stable financial position, because of her scholarships, is the only reason she will be able to further her education and continue on to graduate school.
And, for our donors and future donors, Brittany has a very special message:
"I would first of all like to thank you, and tell you that every dollar you donate truly does make a difference. There are students at this University that want to be successful that will put their heart and soul on the line to follow their dreams, and it is only because of your generosity that they can succeed!"
Why do I give back to SXU?
As president of the SXU National Alumni Board, I meet many SXU students and find that many of us share a common story. We wouldn’t have been able to attend college without some sort of monetary assistance. I can attest there are many costs associated with getting a college education (literally and figuratively) but it would be a shame to see excellent students forfeit their ticket to greatness because they can’t afford the tuition. Although I have many student loans that I am repaying, I donate because it is my privilege and responsibility to help give someone else their ticket to greatness and reach their full potential with a college education from SXU.
If you’re contemplating donating for the first time, I recommend attending one of the many events on and off campus to meet fellow alums as well as SXU students and learn about how even a few dollars go a long way for a student eager to learn and succeed. Thank you. I hope to see you there!
--Candace N. Ramirez ’02, ’04, ‘05
Continuing my education in an area with extensive clinical [opportunities] for experience was always a goal and dream of mine and I would like to thank you [scholarship donors] for assisting me in accomplishing this. I truly believe that the education I am receiving at Saint Xavier in the nursing program is above and beyond any other I would have received [at a different university].
Senior Nursing Major
Cross Country Runner