Penn State Smeal’s BOSS program celebrates 10 years

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the summer of 2008, rising high school senior Diag Davenport and his father embarked on a four-hour drive from their home in Washington, D.C., to Penn State’s University Park campus to participate in a new program designed for prospective students.

That program — Business Opportunities Summer Session (BOSS) — facilitated by the Smeal College of Business Office of Diversity Enhancement Programs, celebrated its 10th anniversary this summer.

BOSS offers high school students, often from underrepresented populations, who are interested in a business degree a chance to see what college life is like by spending two weeks on campus. Students take college prep and business fundamental courses taught by Penn State faculty.

"BOSS is designed to show students that no matter your color, creed, or socio- economic background, there is a support system at Smeal that will enable a student to reach their very best," said Assistant Dean for Diversity Enhancement Programs Jamie Campbell. "During these two weeks, students are given a crash course on what it means to be a Smeal student. BOSS engages the cohort in everything from accounting to the Smeal Honor Code. Proper etiquette, working in teams, professional dress (down to tying a tie — there is a 'no clip-on' policy), and business writing are also additional topics covered. On the last day of the program the participants present a business that they have created using the skills that they learned during their time at BOSS."

For Davenport, BOSS provided motivation and exposure he may not have received otherwise.

“I left Penn State fully energized to study business and I was certain that Smeal was the right place for me to do so,” he said. “I saw that BOSS was the bridge between my ambition to succeed and the opportunity to make it happen.”

Davenport’s is just one of dozens of success stories BOSS has helped write. Of the nearly 200 students who have attended since 2008, more than 60 percent have applied to Penn State. Ninety-one percent have been accepted, which is 40 percent higher than the average Penn State University Park acceptance rate.

A majority of those were offered enrollment at University Park, but some have accepted offers to enroll at other Penn State campuses, such as Altoona, Abington, Berks, Erie, Hazleton, Schuylkill and New Kensington.

"Industry, business colleges, and most of society in general have realized that diversity in business is a strength, an opportunity, and needs to be supported," said Campbell. "BOSS is able to view diversity from not only an ethic background stance, but also from a geographic one as well. We have been fortunate enough to have students from commonwealths as far away as Puerto Rico to right here in State College complete the program."

Ashley Au, who attended BOSS in 2015, came back this year as a program assistant. Not only did she bring prior BOSS knowledge, she is “currently a Smeal student with business aspirations that began at BOSS.”

Au witnessed the power of the BOSS experience through the lens of a program assistant.

“‘I’ve been sold. Penn State. Smeal — this is where I want to be.’ That quote came from one of my 23 campers, spoken to me on her last day. Her words resonated with me because they mirrored the same emotions and enthusiasm I had felt, just two years prior,” Au said.

“In 2015, I attended BOSS. Like every high school student, I was worried about the pressures of figuring out my future. Where do I apply to college? What major do I pick? Are my SATs good enough? The list went on and on. Before I attended BOSS, I would have never dreamed that all of those questions would be answered for me.”

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Last Updated August 15, 2017