CSOM launches leadership program for high-schoolers

Vincent Staupe

The Carlson School of Management is unveiling a new program this fall that prepares underrepresented area high school students for college.

The Leadership Access Program is aimed at helping the students become competitive by college application time, said Mary M. Kosir, the Carlson School’s undergraduate program assistant dean. The program supplements high school learning with educational mentorship, test preparation and course guidance, she said.

Kosir said the idea for the program came from the Leadership Education and Development Program, a national program that brings a diverse group of underserved and underrepresented students from all over the country to campuses nationwide for three weeks in summer.

The Leadership Access Program’s goal is to bring the focus locally, in terms of helping area high school students succeed, she said.

“LEAD has been a very successful program for us but what was missing was it serves only one or two people in Minnesota,” Kosir said.

“I wanted to make sure we were aggressively addressing the changing demographics in the state of Minnesota,” she said.

Kosir and others at the Carlson School spent more than a year and a half building partnerships with local high schools and developing the programming necessary to begin this fall.

Ultimately, two high schools in the Twin Cities were chosen to host the program: Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis and St. Paul’s Arlington High School.

“St. Paul in general was very interested in pursuing this program,” Kosir said.

Arlington is one of the newer high schools in the Twin Cities, which allows for greater flexibility in its programming model, she said.

In July, the Carlson School chose John Dawson as the program director. Dawson, with 20 years of experience in the local educational community, spent the past month getting to know the partners in the chosen schools.

He said he is very eager for the program to begin.

“The beauty of this program is that I am in the process of recruiting ninth-grade students,” Dawson said. “And I will be with these students when they graduate in 2010.”

Students at the Carlson School – some of whom Kosir said she hopes will serve as mentors – said the program could prove beneficial to the students and the school as a whole.

“I think it’s a great idea for those that may not otherwise have an opportunity to attend,” said accounting and human resources junior Melissa Gorvin.

Accounting junior Adam Suqrot said the program appears promising, but it should be focused on high school students, not the Carlson School.

“Is this trying to just make us look good?” Suqrot said. “I would like this program if it is delivered right.”

Dawson said time will be the ultimate test.

“My litmus test for this program would be at least 25 students (from the program) slotted to arrive in Carlson upon graduation,” he said.