Summer Business Institute Director Jill Foote has three eight by ten group photos of the kids who have taken part in the program in the past. She says they are all ambitious kids from low and moderate income communities. They came to Rice to broaden their career expectations and to learn a little something about business. Foote says the summer program expands what happens during the school year.
“The high school curriculum tends to be very focused on individual work: you sit in class, your take notes, you do your homework, you take a test. And when they get later in life, in college, in particularly in the post-graduate environment in business school, a lot of work is in teams.”
Activities include analysis of retail companies and trading simulations in the stock and energy markets. Foote says the students go see business in action. This year, the program added a sports management component which meant a popular field trip to the Houston Texans football team.
“When you look at the Houston Texans, for instance, you think well gee if I’m not an owner, or coach, or an athlete — I can’t work there. And in fact they have a very large organization of accountants, of business managers, of media and communications people, of people who are involved in philanthropy.”
Reagan High School student Angel Martinez says the trip did change his perspective.
“What I’m looking forward to be is a lawyer, an attorney defense criminal. And since we went yesterday to the Texans, I forgot they even have an attorney for sports management section for like a lawsuit: if the brand they are wearing or the logo isn’t right they move over to their management of lawyers, and I found that interesting.”
Martinez says the summer experience also helps him understand better what’s going on in the news from how the DOW is doing on a particular day to taking an interest in where oil prices are beyond how much it’s costing at the pump.
Yates High School student Kierra Lee is interested in helping people so she automatically thought that meant social work.
“And when we went to the Texans field trip the other day, there was a lady who does fund-raising and different things with the Texans for different organizations. I found out that’s how business and social work can come together.”
Through the experience the kids gain confidence and Lee says her family at home notices the difference after two weeks.
“Yes, my grandma now she says I talk to much, (laugh) but that’s better than at first, because she said I didn’t talk enough.”
Capella Tucker, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.