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This version of NSU News has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of NSU News, visit news.nova.edu.

This version of SharkBytes has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of SharkBytes, visit sharkbytes.nova.edu.

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Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796


SharkBytes Archives


Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796


NSU MBA Grad Applies Classroom Lessons to South Africa’s Poorest


Gaia's Story -- Kids & Adults in Food Line

Gaia Calcaterra photographed with children and adults waiting in line for food.

FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE, Fla. – Most people pursue an MBA to ensure a better future for themselves and their families. For Gaia Calcaterra, it has been all about changing the lives of others — thousands of men, women and children in South Africa. She will receive her MBA from Nova Southeastern University’s  H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business commencement ceremony on June 8 at 9:30 a.m. at the main campus in Davie.

It all started at NSU with her Marketing Decisions for Managers class. Calcaterra and three fellow students developed a business plan for something she was passionate about – the growing number of child-headed households in the Nkomazi region of South Africa.

Calcaterra, a native of South Africa, had learned about this crisis where the oldest children – sometimes as young as 12 years old – now care for themselves, their younger siblings, and often even aging grandparents. “In these families, both parents have passed away, typically due to HIV and TB,” she explained. “Since their parents crossed the border illegally, the children often don’t have government ID’s so they can’t apply for government help, attend school or benefit from feeding programs.”

The objective of Calcaterra’s business plan was to create a Care Center in Nkomazi to provide immediate relief and then ongoing support to these children. They needed basic food items, blankets, medicines and school supplies. The hope was to stabilize them and then get the children into school. To make this happen, Calcaterra determined she needed to raise $111,111 by 11/11/2016 to build the Care Center.

Fast forward to June, 2018, and the impact of Calcaterra’s marketing plan looks like this:

  • Since January, 2016, a total of $350,000 has been raised through private donations.
  • In January, 2017, the Care Center opened in Nkomazi. It serves as a base for outreach and eight children permanently live in the house.  Space to house four additional children was recently added along with a place for HIV, TB and other medical testing.
  • 25,200 men, women and children have been provided with food at the Orlando Squatter Camp.  (Approximately 350 people receive food every Friday)
  • 1440 households have received maize meal (80/month)
  • 720 elderly people have been provided with food, medication and home care visits. (40/month)
  • 720 patients (incl. children) have been tested for Malaria/HIV/Tuberculosis/Skin Infections. (40/month)

Gaia believes she could not have been nearly as successful with relief efforts without the business analytics she mastered at NSU. As she put it, “Entrepreneurial risk often leads to failure without extensive business intelligence.”

“It has been said that great leaders don’t set out to be a leader…they set out to make a difference,” said J. Preston Jones, D.B.A., dean of the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship. “It is never about the role–always about the goal. Ms. Calcaterra, in achieving this worthy goal, is realizing her potential as a leader. We are very proud of her!”

Last May, Calcaterra and her team of volunteers extended the Gratitude Project’s reach across the border, creating an administrative post in Ressano Garcia, Mozambique. Five care workers have accomplished:

  • Food, medication, education, school fees, uniforms and clothing for 589 children (vulnerable, orphans or child-headed households)
  • Food, medication, home visits and clothing support for 467 elderly people
  • Healthcare and medication for 621 HIV / AIDS patients.

Calcaterra’s next goal is to build a Care Center at this location to extend the Gratitude Project’s touch even farther. She feels very fortunate to be able to help these people – especially the children – who she says were “born with the cards stacked against them.” She takes great pride in literally seeing them “come back to life.”


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About the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship: Serving more than 2,800 students, NSU’s H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in areas such as accounting, finance, human resource management, public administration, supply chain management and more. The college is housed in the five-story state-of-the-art Carl DeSantis Building on NSU’s main campus in Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Florida. Programs are also available at multiple locations and online. For more information, please visit: http://www.business.nova.edu


About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Top 200 National Research Universities and located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa Bay, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit www.nova.edu for more information about NSU.


May 31, 2018

Media Contact

Marla Oxenhandler