Multidisciplinary Group Serves in Ghana

PROVO, Utah – Nov 10, 2015 – Before departing for the Romney Institute’s annual study abroad in Ghana this April, Marriott School students were given a challenge: see with African eyes and hear with African ears.

The students, a multidisciplinary team made up of twenty-five MPA, MBA, and MAcc majors, took that task to heart, spending three weeks working on various management projects in the African nation. This was the largest cohort to ever participate in the annual trip, which was started in 2004.

“I worked with an orphanage called Ghana Make a Difference,” says Rachel Henrie, second-year MAcc student. “We helped revise the organization’s accounting system. It impacted me to know that what I’m studying can be a really good opportunity to serve people.”

MPA students tackled a human resource management project with the orphanage while the MBA team took on a consulting project with Game, a Walmart subsidiary. Other projects included assisting a hospital solve with cash flow issues, helping a school determine cost in revenues, and working with an NGO that promotes environmentally friendly business practices.

“There was a lot of collaboration in the evenings between the students when they talked about their projects,” says Rex Facer, an MPA professor and this year’s trip leader. “Bridging across programs helped students know that everyone has a different set of skills that are very valuable.”

The projects were a success for everyone involved. The organizations gathered information that allowed them to better accomplish their missions, and the students gained real-world experience while learning from their Ghanaian counterparts.

“What struck me the most was how industrious the people are,” says second-year MPA student Robert Porter. “They don’t have a lot to start out with, but they take what resources they have and make the most out of it.”

Though the teams were busy working with clients during the week, they embraced the culture of Ghana on the weekends. Every Sunday the students met with Ghanaian members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, allowing them to get to know the locals on a more personal level.

“Some of those experiences were the most profound because we got to see people for who they really are and see the things they deeply care about,” Facer says. “It shapes the way you view and interact with people when you realize we’re all part of the same family.”

Writer: Angela Marler