Saturday March 1 marked the date of the Fourth Annual Learners to Leaders Summit. The annual summit is a unique event hosted by the Opus College of Business but targeted to a wide range of future professionals with connections to area colleges, including current juniors and seniors, as well as recent grads. The mission of L2L? To provide high-potential students and young professionals of color with perspective and resources that will position them for success in graduate school and in their careers.
The theme of this year’s summit was “Leadership. Why me? Why now?” The theme was chosen as a reflection of the reality that while everyone is capable of playing a valuable leadership role, it’s all too common to assume that the responsibility of leadership belongs to someone else, based on title, personality, or amount of past experience.
Did this year’s L2L Summit achieve its objective of providing content relevant and valuable to future graduate students from a broad range of backgrounds and interests? Here’s what some of the participants had to say.
The Tuesday February 22 Learners to Leaders networking reception, dinner, and sample MBA experience program was well attended and well received. The second annual L2L was held in Schulze Auditorium and Opus Hall, hosted by UST’s Opus College of Business.
After a half hour networking session, Dean Christopher Puto kicked off the evening with a welcoming address to an audience that included 28 minority college juniors, seniors and recent graduates from a dozen area colleges. In his remarks the Dean addressed the commitment that the OCB has made to excellence, and to diversity, the strong representation of African American and Hispanic faculty, and the University’s support for initiatives such as the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, which the Opus College of Business has co-sponsored in partnership with NBMBAA for more than 20 years.
Networking at Learners to Leaders 2010
Our February 10 Learners to Leaders event was the first phase of an innovative “bridge initiative.” Not only is it a bridge from college to graduate school, it also serves as a bridge between UST’s Opus College of Business and the African American community.
The event brought together more than 40 participants from area colleges including:
By engaging the academic community of fine colleges and universities across the state to help us spot the most promising young talent, we have identified a pool of more than 60 talented young people, individuals who are not only tomorrow’s leaders, but are demonstrating their leadership today, academically and otherwise. This first annual Learners to Leaders event, to take place February 10, is focused on the African American community. As we finalize our plans for the event, and the date draws near, the planning team’s excitement has been building. We are all looking forward to meeting our first cohort of L2L participants!
We’ve taken the challenge of building stronger engagement with diverse young professionals and pre-professionals, and responded with an exciting initiative, which we’ve decided to call Learners to Leaders. It’s an invitation-only networking and leader development event where each participant has been nominated by a faculty, staff, or friend who can attest to their leadership contributions.
The participants are talented college juniors, seniors and recent grads who have expressed interest in furthering their education at the graduate level. This event not only gives us broader exposure to a community that may not be as familiar with the MBA degree program, or St. Thomas at the graduate school level; it also gives us the opportunity to contribute to the academic and career development of this dynamic and exciting population.
This week, the spark of an idea ignited into full flame. For some time I have been challenging various members of our faculty and administrative staff to consider how we might make the St. Thomas MBA degree more relevant and better understood by prospective students. In particular, I wanted to know how we might better engage young people from backgrounds underrepresented in MBA programs from coast to coast, including our own UST MBA program.
At the same time our program has some distinctive attributes that I believe make us particularly appealing. We feature a strong focus on ethical leadership. We offer a curriculum that is challenging, but at the same time is designed to transform young professionals into effective organizational leaders regardless of whether their undergraduate studies focused on business or chemistry, or art history. Most of all, our diverse and incredibly supportive faculty and staff make the St. Thomas experience a personal and engaging one, from initial inquiry, right up to graduation day, and beyond. It seems that it would be a no-brainer that once diverse students become aware of what St. Thomas has to offer, they would find it intriguing and want to know more.
Later this week we’ll be brainstorming with undergraduate advising staff at Macalester, St. Olaf, and here at St. Thomas, to further develop this budding engagement initiative. Time to help future leaders “reThink” their graduate education strategy!