Carlson School offers program to high school students

Students from widely diverse backgrounds get a glimpse into the world of business.

Derrick Biney

Jacquelyn Rodriguez and Jonathan Villalobos said they are getting a better understanding of life, people and the business world through a program geared toward students entering their last year of high school.

Since July 11, the Carlson School of Management has been hosting its 13th annual LEAD Summer Business Institute program.

Thirty-two high school students of diverse backgrounds from all over the country have been participating in the three-week summer business institute that will encourage them to pursue careers in business.

“I like the diversity of the different kids from all over the country,” said Villalobos, who attends Pasadena High School in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s really cool to get to meet all these people.”

Candelario Zuniga, diversity coordinator and academic adviser for the Carlson School and director of the leadership program, said the program targets high-ability minority students and gives them the opportunity to discover whether the business field is the way they want to go.

Irene Fernando, a leadership program alumna and Carlson School junior, said she liked the program because it exposed her to another part of the country and other facets of business.

“I was interested in business, and I thought it was a good opportunity to be around likeminded people,” Fernando said.

Currently, Fernando is a resident adviser for the program because she said she believes in what the program does and how it motivates students.

When she went back to high school, Fernando said, her self- esteem was higher than when she first started the program.

“LEAD is a confidence booster. It helps (participants) understand who they are, what their strengths are and what they are capable of,” she said.

Rodriguez said the first day of the program was her best moment, because she opened up more than she thought she would to the other students.

“After the first day, I felt I knew everybody so much longer than I actually did,” she said. “That was cool.”

Zuniga said he likes to see the students of diverse ethnic, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds interact and learn from one another’s’ life experiences. He said many students who have gone through the program recommended it to their family members.

Nicole Pilman, associate administrator for Carlson School and leadership program director, said the business school does the program to increase the recruiting of minority students.

“Students in the program do site visits to 3M, Supervalu and General Mills. They have a lot of classroom time where they are meeting with our professors on each area of business,” Pilman said. “The program is packed; we keep them pretty busy throughout the day.”

One of the instructors involved in the program, Frank Beil, said he found it interesting to teach high school students relatively sophisticated business concepts and practice.

“Business, in its conceptual form, is easy to understand,” Beil said. “You can teach anybody in three weeks how a business actually operates. Our goal is to really just have students see the beginnings of how you build a business.”

Fifty-six leadership program participants have attended the University, including 27 graduates. Twelve more will be incoming freshman attending the University in the fall, Zuniga said.

The University is one of 11 campuses that participate in the program, she said.