Indiana University Program Seeks Increased Diversity In Student Body

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Brittani Wilson

Beginning this weekend, the first of two groups of high school students from underrepresented groups will arrive at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business for a week of instruction, campus activities and a case competition.

The 60 high school seniors will be participating in a new program, MEET Kelley, which is an acronym for "Meet - Educate - Experience - Transition to Kelley." It replaces another program, the Junior Executive Institute, which also had a goal of increasing diversity among the undergraduate student body at the top-ranked business school.

The students are coming to Bloomington from as far away as Puerto Rico, as well as from California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Texas, neighboring Illinois and Ohio, and, of course, Indiana.

The new program has been designed for high-performing high school seniors who are African American, Latino or Hispanic, Native American or Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. A group of female students will arrive Sunday, June 8, and a group of men will come the following Sunday, June 15.

Brittani Wilson, associate director of admissions at Kelley, is the program's director. She knows from first-hand experience the challenges these young people already are facing. As an African American woman who grew up in Lexington, Ky., Wilson said she knows what it is like to be a person of color attending school in a predominantly white institution -- even going back to grade school.

"I was always the minority," said Wilson, who worked as a corporate recruiter and in nonprofit management before coming to Kelley in 2011. "Being a first-generation college student and going through that process, I understand some of the thoughts that these students have and some of the barriers that they will have.

"I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to pour knowledge into these students," she added.

As at IU, increasing diversity is a top priority for Kelley Dean Idie Kesner. At the graduate level, the Kelley School was a founding member of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, the nation’s largest diversity network.

But like at other top schools, increasing enrollment of underrepresented students remains a challenge. Only about 5 percent of the incoming freshman class comes from one of those populations.

"People who know us, know that we have excellent programs and an inclusive, supportive culture. They know we're a world-class business school that is globally minded and whose students are recruited by more than 300 companies," Kesner said.

The Kelley School hosts the largest undergraduate diversity case competition in the nation, which is supported by more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies. This year, teams from 32 schools and more than 100 students participated. It has a dedicated office to focus on diversity students, which offers a mentoring program that includes presentations delivered by corporate guests.

Kesner is excited about MEET Kelley and its potential for introducing her school, as well as other efforts to create more connections and a stronger climate for more diversity and inclusiveness here.

Entrance requirements for the new program are more stringent than for its predecessor. Students are required to have a minimum of a 3.4 grade-point average (out of 4.0). It only is for rising high school seniors.

MEET Kelley also is not a co-ed program. Wilson said MEET Kelley hopes to replicate the success of another pre-college program, the Young Women's Institute, which also will be meeting next week. That program fosters a greater degree of openness among the women in a single-gender environment.

Students are responsible for their own travel to IU Bloomington, but support from active Kelley corporate partners such as John Deere, Ernst & Young and PriceWaterhouseCoopers enables Kelley to defray all on-campus costs.

The next two Mondays, June 9 and 16, the students will be organized into teams of five, who will work on a business case about planning a benefit music concert. They will make presentations to a panel of corporate recruiters and faculty on Fridays.

Throughout the week, they will attend classes on accounting, finance, entrepreneurship and marketing, which will help them prepare their case presentation. They also will participate in a scavenger hunt and a service-learning project and meet with campus partners such as La Casa/the Latino Cultural Center, IU Admissions and the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program and tour the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. It won't be all work; they also will get to see a play, hit the IU swimming pool and do other fun activities.

It is hoped that after these next two weeks many of these high-ability students will transition to IU and Kelley and qualify to become direct admit students and Fry Scholars, a prestigious scholarship program that covers tuition, fees and rooming and provides a support system. 

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