By: Caitlin Brown
This past Thursday, Columbia College students, under the leadership of Jane Canepa, President of The Eventors Inc., hosted the annual Jammin’ with Jane event to fundraise for nonprofit organization MENTEE.
Although one would never guess from the elegance of the event, Jammin’ with Jane was entirely student-run, serving as the class’ final project in Special Events and Promotions, a course that Canepa has perfected over her 27 years at Columbia. When asked what the biggest takeaway from the project was, most students were in agreement: the amount of effort that goes into such a smoothly-run event. Students took on different roles for the project, serving on various committees to organize a successful showcasing of a worthy nonprofit.
And, with such effective guidance from Canepa and such hard work from her students, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this year’s Jammin’ with Jane was well worth attending. The event was so meticulously crafted that all the different elements came together seamlessly to produce an inviting, memorable night. Held at Tapas Valencia, a Spanish tapas bar with its own charitable aspirations, the event featured poetry readings and musical performances all conducted by fellow Columbia alumni. The two musicians, Amoraye Aayonna and Jack Kapson, are upcoming Chicago artists whose names you need to know. Aayonna performed beautiful acapella pieces while Kapson’s dreamy guitar-vocal combo set the warm, inviting tone for the night (I’m currently living with his “Mellow Sun” EP on repeat).
All of this was curated to honor nonprofit organization MENTEE, founded by Letitia Zwickert. MENTEE is a Chicago-based foundation that provides immigrant, refugee, and low-income youths with the educational and emotional resources necessary to help guide these students toward a successful future. Zwickert’s mission is influenced by her experiences conducting research in Europe during the refugee crisis of 2016.There, through a Fulbright-Schuman Scholar award, she studied educational practices for refugee and migrant families. Zwickert has worked tirelessly to promote positive social change through a myriad of roles; she currently serves as a Fulbright Specialist in Education for 2017-2020, a Transatlantic Core Group Fellow with the BMW Foundation, and a writer for Education Week’s Global Ed blog. And if this brief glimpse into her resume wasn’t impressive enough, Zwickert skillfully manages all of these global roles in addition to being a full-time high school teacher and parent.
I’m endlessly grateful to Jane Canepa and her students for the opportunity to learn about such a deserving organization as MENTEE. From the restaurant selection, to the student-led entertainment, to the silent auction fundraising, this year’s Jammin’ with Jane was a great success.
(My vote? I think they deserve an A.)