Smeal conference on diversity offers University-wide opportunity

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Smeal College of Business S.T.A.R.T. Conference, or Striving Toward Awareness and Respect for Tomorrow, is an exciting opportunity for Penn Staters of all majors to network and learn about diversity, students say.

The 15th annual S.T.A.R.T. Conference, held at the end of March, was one of the best yet in terms of attendance and speakers, according to senior marketing major Kalyn Flournoy, who served on the conference planning committee for the fourth consecutive year.

“The conference is a great experience; it features discussions and topics that benefit everyone in any major.”

-- Kalyn Flournoy, senior marketing major, Smeal College of Business

Flournoy became involved with the conference as a first-year student because she thought the event sounded like a great opportunity. After four years, she advises all students to consider attending.

“The conference is a great experience; it features discussions and topics that benefit everyone in any major,” Flournoy said. “There are also a lot of networking opportunities, and the essay contest is a chance to earn a scholarship.”

Undergraduate students from across the University are encouraged to apply to the essay contest; students are asked to respond to a diversity-related topic announced early in the spring semester. This year’s topic: How do you see diversity changing in the next 15 years, and how would you impact the change?

First-year Smeal student Lisa Chiobi earned third place in the contest with her numerical countdown.

“I wanted to answer in a way I knew best, and I’m all about numbers,” Chiobi said. She hopes to major in finance or enterprise risk management, with a minor in economics.

“This and other clubs and organizations around Smeal that support diversity reinforce that we’re all part of one community, no matter our race or color.”

-- Lisa Chiobi, first-year student, Smeal College of Business

Chiobi said that she’s glad she went to the conference as a first-year student.

“It’s really good for first-year students who are just starting to network and learn how to further themselves with professional development,” she said. “It’s a great networking opportunity as well; I sat next to a representative from EY (Ernst & Young), and he gave me some good advice.”

The S.T.A.R.T. Conference is just one opportunity for students in Smeal to celebrate and support the University’s climate of diversity.

“This and other clubs and organizations around Smeal that support diversity reinforce that we’re all part of one community, no matter our race or color,” Chiobi said.

Special guests at the 15th annual S.T.A.R.T. Conference included keynote speakers Ken Bouyer, director of inclusiveness recruiting at EY Americas; Michael S. Piwowar, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioner; and breakout session leaders from Shell, Kohl’s, EY, Altria, Target and Johnson & Johnson.

The event’s company sponsors included Altria, Kohl’s, GM, EY, Johnson & Johnson, Shell, Target, Boeing, Capital One and United States Steel.

For more information on this and past conferences, visit www.smeal.psu.edu/startconference.

About Diversity Enhancement in the Smeal College of Business
The Smeal College of Business is committed to encouraging a sense of community that welcomes, celebrates and promotes diversity among all of its members. Through a number of services and opportunities, the college works with incoming, current and international students to enrich the academic experience and to connect them with our many corporate partners. For more information on diversity enhancement efforts at Smeal, visit www.smeal.psu.edu/diversity/.

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Last Updated April 29, 2014