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MBA Students Apply Entrepreneurial Skills to Help Local Veterans Take ‘Honor Flight’

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 25, 2016) – A group of University at Albany Weekend MBA students are working to provide local veterans with a trip to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

Weekend MBA Students: Joe Rossi, Casey Weig, Ami Kokoneci, and Jason Leszczynski
Weekend MBA students from left, Joe Rossi, Casey Weig, Ami Kokoneci, and Jason Leszczynski, are helping local veterans take an ‘honor flight’ to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

The students, Ami Kokoneci (Albany, N.Y.), Jason Leszczynski (Fultonville, N.Y.), Joe Rossi (Clifton Park, N.Y.), and Casey Weig (Albany, N.Y.) were recently assigned to start and sustain a new venture during their four-week Entrepreneurship and Creativity course (BMGT 675).

The catch? All proceeds must benefit a local charity of choice.

They’ve teamed up with Leatherstocking Honor Flight, a local hub of the national Honor Flight network. The not-for-profit organization is dedicated to taking World War II vets to see the memorial site honoring them at no cost.

Since mid-May, the students have been selling 3-inch embroidered “supporter patches,” which can be purchased at Patches4Vets.com. Their goal is to raise $700 by June 4, the last day of class. It would be enough to send two veterans to the memorial.

“When we first were assigned the project, the four of us went around the table and started suggesting ideas. I had heard about Leatherstocking Honor Flight through a radio broadcast on PYX 106. It was a perfect fit,” said Leszczynski. “My grandfather fought in World War II. You read these stories of young kids, 19 years old, who were drafted, or enlisted, to protect our freedom. These veterans are real heroes. They deserve to see this memorial.”

Having only one month to reach sales goals, Leszczynski said the team’s needed to incorporate much of what they’ve learned in the Weekend MBA program to be successful.

“This project has really brought the whole [Weekend MBA] program together for us,” Leszczynski said. “We’ve been using everything, from presentation skills, to financial and inventory management, to now strategic marketing tactics, including promotion through traditional and social media. It’s putting our skills to the test.”

UAlbany’s Weekend MBA program is a unique structure, where a small group of students (less than 40) complete 48 credits over 22 months. They meet every other weekend on Fridays from 2-8:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Students advance together through graduation, taking one class at a time between late August and early July.

BMGT 675 is the final class for this group of students before graduation. Bill Wales, an associate professor in the School of Business, is teaching the course. He also created the project’s guidelines.

“I am proud of what our remarkably talented MBA students are accomplishing in such a short period of time,” Wales said. “Raising funds for these important charitable causes not only helps develop these students entrepreneurial skills, but also advances UAlbany’s mission of developing innovative, and socially responsible business leaders."

After graduation, Leszczynski said the team plans to continue volunteering at Leatherstocking Honor Flight. They may even still sell patches.

“Our hope is to be mailing packages out all summer long,” Leszczynski said. “We’re already prepared to order double the amount of patches after our current stock runs out.”

Those interested in buying patches are encouraged to do so before June 1. They are currently being pre-sold on Patches4Vets.com. You can also reach out to Leszczynski by email for additional information: jleszczynski@albany.edu

Learn more about UAlbany’s Weekend MBA Program by visiting its official website.

Media Coverage:

Albany Times Union: Honoring their quiet sacrifice

Time Warner Cable News - Albany: Memorial Day: UAlbany MBA Students Helping Honor Flight Program

Time Warner Cable News - Albany: MBA Students at SUNY Albany Build Non-Profit for Veterans

Time Warner Cable News - Albany: MBA Students Send Four Vets to DC Memorial 

PYX 106: MBA Student that set up a charity for his final class @UAlbany that benifits the team at Leatherstocking Honor Flight is on the show this morning

Amsterdam Recorder: Students help veterans visit WWII memorial

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