College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Professionalism & compassion: MBA students give back


In early August, ten MBA students embarked on an annual weeklong trip to help improve lives and foster hope in one of the most impoverished areas of the United States.

Members of the Kola Foundation—non-profit funded and entirely operated by Illinois MBA students—travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota each year to construct and repair homes, provide school supplies, deliver food and clothing, and develop partnerships with the Oglala Lakota residents.

Brittany Hopper, a 2014 MBA candidate and CEO of Kola, remarks that the annual trip “exposes participants to Native American history, culture, tradition and spirituality, while also affording opportunities to repair the extremely damaged quality of life on Pine Ridge.”

Kola, which means “friend” in Lakota, draws on the diverse experiences, skills, and networks of MBA students. “[It] was formed after a group of MBA students and a former MBA dean took a trip to Pine Ridge for a weeklong volunteer trip in 2010, and the organization has grown significantly over three years,” Hopper says.

“It’s a priority of the Illinois MBA to give back—and this trip is paramount in reflecting that commitment.”

Get more updates on this year’s trip on Facebook and Instagram (TheKolaFoundation).

UIUC College of Business