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The Assignment Was a 15-Page Paper, And They Wrote 97 — And Raised $25,000

December 18, 2013

Smart Affair attendees

The minimum page requirement for a Drexel communication major’s senior project is 15 pages. But that didn’t stop Farrah Goldsmith and Cherilyn Buscarino from submitting a 97-page report. 

Still not impressed? The two seniors’ endeavor also involved planning a 250-person major fundraising event for the Drexel Smart House (DSH) that raised more than $25,000.

Goldsmith and Buscarino, who have concentrations in public relations, decided it was time to rebrand the Drexel Smart House and attract more attention to the group. Back in 2006, the idea of transforming a former fraternity house in Powelton Village into a sustainable urban-living model for student housing and innovation classrooms generated a lot of interest. Funding announcements like a $1.1 million pledge from the University and more than $300,000 in external grants and donations occasionally brought the Smart House back into the spotlight over the years. Goldsmith and Buscarino wanted to use their brand and reputation management skills to once more bring attention to the group, which has been quietly working hard for some time, and celebrate its past and future achievements. 

They came up with the idea of a benefit, which eventually became The Smart Affair, a cocktail reception held Nov. 22 at the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building. 

“We wanted to show all the skills we’d learned up until that point,” Buscarino said. 

After the duo successfully pitched the idea of using a large-scale event to raise money and awareness to the organization’s board of co-directors, they took over PR duties for the group, including maintaining the group’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Most of their time and energy went toward creating, planning, securing funding for and promoting the event all on their own.

“We treated our project as a part-time job,” Buscarino said. 

Goldsmith agreed. “I see it as an extension of Drexel’s co-op program,” she said. 

The two students, who finished their senior project two terms early, took lighter loads of classes so they could work with donors and vendors during normal business hours. Having worked with the University to plan events for their respective sororities (Phi Mu for Goldsmith and Phi Sigma Sigma for Buscarino), the students knew how to work closely with President John Fry and nearly every college dean, which granted them access to resources across the University.

“Above all, this experience taught me the importance of establishing and maintaining relationships,” Goldsmith said. 

Those relationships did pay off. After meeting with the girls, Fry pledged $5,000, or about half of the event’s budget, and even wrote the welcome message in literature handed out at the event. Goldsmith and Buscarino also received donations from the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Close School of Entrepreneurship, LeBow College of Business, the College of Engineering, the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship and the Office of the Provost. The Graduate Student Association, the Undergraduate Student Government Association and several Greek organizations also made financial contributions.

Goldsmith and Buscarino recruited Drexel student volunteers to help out, including a graphic designer and photographers to help with marketing, a DJ and three a capella groups to provide entertainment and greeters to welcome guests. 

Their hard work resulted in success not only for the organization, but also for themselves. Now, when the girls apply for job positions for after graduation, they will have something tangible to discuss and give to potential employers.
“The whole point of the senior project is to have something to show for your four or five years at Drexel and then show it to employers,” Karen Cristiano, an associate teaching professor and the faculty adviser for the project, said. 

Even though the girls just handed in their papers and presented their project this past week, it’s safe to say they’ve already passed that task with flying colors.