In early December, eleven of our graduate students visited Memphis, Tennessee, and embarked on our very first TFC Trek. TFC Treks are student-led experiential learning trips with interdisciplinary groups of Vanderbilt graduate students. The goal of these experiences is to connect students with a variety of cross-sector approaches to social entrepreneurship in different cities, and in Memphis that included meeting professionals and organizations focused on social impact, sustainability, and economic development.
Led and coordinated by Owen student, Andreas Guentner (MBA ’18), the Memphis Trek brought together a group of students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines (Owen, Peabody, and Divinity students from a total of eight different countries). The itinerary included visits to International Paper and AutoZone focused on corporate social responsibilty and sustainability, a tour of Crosstown Concourse’s (under contruction, hence the hard hats!) design for economic and community development, and a panel with leaders from Memphis-based non-profit organizations, including BRIDGES and RISE Memphis. Not to mention great BBQ and fellowship along the way! We were especially thrilled to be hosted by our TFC Programming Board Alum, Matt Inbusch (MBA ’16), who serves as International Paper’s Sustainability Project Lead.
Student participants shared that their Memphis Trek highlights included “seeing real world applications of social and environmental practices in the business world” and “the connections we made with both business and community development”.
Andreas appreciated connecting with each professional and organizational leader that the group met, and described the trek’s visits as some of “the most genuine and honest interactions with people who are in the trenches”.
Several TFC students, including Andreas, who graduated from the University of Memphis, are excited to continue partnering with some of the projects they were introduced to during the trek.
For these reasons, the Memphis Trek represented the best of the TFC – student-led, cross-discipline exploration at the intersections of business and social impact in a neighboring city. Stay tuned for updates on our Seattle and East Tennessee TFC Treks ahead!