Classmates make an impact before they reach the classroom

KidsUnlimitedWhen Fanar Sefa and Jim Andrews met last February at EMBA Preview Weekend, neither of them could have anticipated what would happen next. Over lunch in the Anderson Family Commons, while sitting on either side of Beth O’Sullivan, senior lecturer in communication at the Jones School, the two began a conversation about their respective volunteer activities. Sefa, maintenance group leader for Dow Chemical Company, volunteers on the board of directors for Kids Unlimited Foundation (KUF).  Andrews, HR director at G & H Towing Company, serves as president and CEO for the Cavalla Historical Foundation (CHF). 

After relating KUF’s mission to provide family-oriented activities that allow cancer-stricken children to experience outings where their illness can be forgotten for a while, Sefa added that Kids Unlimited was the only group of its kind in Houston.

Andrews made the immediate connection. “I may have the perfect opportunity for you.” He explained that CHF operates the American Undersea Warfare Center (AUWC) located at Seawolf Park in Galveston. The park hosts public displays and touring aboard the USS Cavalla (Gato Class Hunter/Killer Submarine) and the USS Stewart (Edsall Class Destroyer Escort) museum ships.

One of the most popular activities supported by AUWC are immersion sleepovers where small groups of children are permitted to sleep over in the actual bunks of the vessels and be a part of fun, educational and exciting set of hands-on activities celebrating American undersea naval history.

“Everything fell together perfectly. Like two matching puzzle pieces,” Andrews said. 

The two prospective EMBA students quickly sketched out a fundraising campaign for groups from Kids Unlimited to join in specially-developed immersion events aboard the USS CAVALLA and USS STEWART, and then pitched the plan to both their boards.  As they had hoped, the initiative was resoundingly approved by both CHF and KUF.

In August, a few short days after Andrews and Sefa started Immersion as members of the EMBA Class of 2016, the first Kids Unlimited event took place at Seawolf Park. “This collaboration helps both CHF and Kids Unlimited to further our missions, but more importantly, through donor support, it provides a great experience at no cost to the children or families who participate,” Sefa said. 

“We knew completing a Rice MBA would spark networking opportunities,” Andrews added.  “We had no idea it would happen even before we started the program.”

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