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The biggest win for these graduates was off the court

12/15/2017

Callie and Brenna Mack decided as high school sophomores to attend The University of Akron. They arrived in 2013 to play on the women’s volleyball team and study business.

By the time they were college sophomores, they were also on their way to being entrepreneurs — for a cause.

The sisters — twins — had gone on what they say was a life-changing service trip to Haiti. After returning, Callie and Brenna joined with other students to found Zips for Haiti to raise funds for an endowed scholarship to enable Haitian students to study at UA.

The spring 2017 graduates have now launched their careers.

VIDEO: MEET THE MACKS


Callie, who earned a BBA in Marketing Management, returned to their native Minnesota and is an assistant account executive at Latitude, where she interned in summer 2016. The marketing agency is also a social enterprise that gives 50 percent of its profits to poverty-stricken areas, including Haiti.

Brenna, who earned a BBA in Marketing Management and a BBA in Sales Management, is now in Phoenix, Ariz., working on the sales team at HealthiestYou, a division of Teladoc, a telehealth company.

Involvement led to making a difference

At UA, both were involved in a variety of activities beyond athletics, but they agree the organization they helped found had the most impact on them.

“Zips for Haiti was the defining moment in our college careers,” says Brenna who, like her sister, was a Williams Honors College Scholar. “Haiti was, hands-down, the best experience. Serving others — all the things they taught me as a person — it helped shape the rest of our college careers.”

The eight-day trip that led to Zips for Haiti was part of a Leadership Experience Project supported by the Institute for Leadership Advancement in the College of Business Administration. Callie, Brenna and 13 other students spent most of their time at the Institution Univers in Ouanaminthe, a nonprofit-supported school for students from Pre-K through Grade 13.

“They smile nonstop, even with nothing,” recalls Callie. “It makes you realize what a privilege education is. They are so excited to get up every day and go to school. To support their country. To support their family.

Zips for Haiti's 2017 mission trip

Learn about this year's trip, which departs for Haiti on Saturday, Dec. 16.

Zips for Haiti

Zips for Haiti icon

“You expect to teach the kids something — to teach them English,” adds Callie. “They taught me how to live life. Which is what I’m taking with me going forward.”

To reach their goal of raising $90,000 for the endowed scholarship, the students started with what Haiti itself has to offer — coffee beans.

Zips for Haiti partnered with Akron Coffee Roasters to produce 10-ounce bags of Blue Mountain Haitian Coffee for sale.

Entrepreneurs for a cause

“We launched our own coffee line,” says Callie with a smile. “We basically became entrepreneurs to generate revenue beyond traditional fundraisers. It was a great way to incorporate our business background and purpose.”

More than 100 students have now been to Haiti on what have become annual service trips, and Zips for Haiti’s membership has swelled as well.

That one service trip could produce such lasting results does not surprise Kevin Smith, director of the Institute for Leadership Advancement.

“I had the pleasure of working with both Callie and Brenna Mack since the fall semester of their first-year at UA when they immediately joined the institute,” says Smith. “Their maturity and leadership abilities were fantastic. It was fun to watch them grow over the next four years. They left everything they touched better than when they found it.”