Summer business program for high schoolers forges diverse Penn State network

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Business Opportunities Summer Session (BOSS) Program, facilitated by the Penn State Smeal College of Business’ Diversity Enhancement Programs, connects underrepresented high school students with current Penn State students and alumni to provide an inside look at the business majors and beyond. Currently in its eighth year, the program is helping to create a powerful network as it continues to share the value of a Smeal education with a diverse population.

This network is evident both in increased applications as well as the connections that form in the program and continue into the years beyond.

“Applications for the 2014 program almost doubled in comparison to the previous year,” said Jamie Campbell, Smeal’s assistant dean for diversity enhancement. “Our BOSS alumni are going home and telling their classmates and their family members about what a valuable experience they had.”

“The relationships I created during the BOSS program really helped me make a decision on which college to attend. The program provided me with a support system going into my college transition, both with the other participants who ended up attending Penn State as well as with the BOSS staff.”

-- Kiyonna McFrazier, Smeal College of Business student and BOSS alumna

In addition, BOSS alumni who choose to apply and are accepted to Penn State and Smeal often stay involved with the program, serving as program assistants in future years.

“We find that this adds a lot of value to the program,” said Campbell. “Participants really hear the messages from their peers, so to have our program assistants be able to communicate the value of a Penn State education is critical.”

Kiyonna McFrazier was a BOSS participant when she was in high school and says that her own experience in the program had a real influence on her final decision to attend Penn State and major in a business discipline.

“The relationships I created during the BOSS program really helped me make a decision on which college to attend,” she said. “The program provided me with a support system going into my college transition, both with the other participants who ended up attending Penn State as well as with the BOSS staff.”

She continued, “Knowing that there were people that I could turn to who wanted me to succeed was a real comfort.”

As a current Smeal student, McFrazier wanted to be able to extend that support system to a new group of BOSS participants.

“I wanted the students to have just as much fun as I did when I was a participant, and learn even more,” said McFrazier. “My program assistants went above and beyond giving us advice about the future and telling us about Penn State, and I wanted to be able to share that experience.”

This year’s BOSS program ran from June 22 to July 3 on Penn State’s University Park campus. The two-week program exposes participants -- high school students who will enter the 12th grade in the fall -- to real business classes in subjects like business law, finance, international business, supply chain management, actuarial science and business writing.

The program also facilitates interactions with professionals. Participants took a day trip to Philadelphia to tour Ernst & Young's offices and learn about career opportunities and company culture there from EY employees and interns.

Though the program is academic in nature, the participants took some time for fun as well. Activities included attendance at a State College Spikes baseball game, where they learned about the business of sports, and a day at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park, providing a look at seasonal and family businesses.

To learn more about the BOSS program, visit www.smeal.psu.edu/uge/diversity/business-opportunities-summer-session-boss or email Diversity Enhancement staff: boss@smeal.psu.edu.

About Diversity Enhancement at Smeal
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 August 11, 2014