Students Learn Business at Rice

A group of high school students from underserved communities just completed a business course at Rice University. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the students were immersed in the world of financial markets, business ethics and management.

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Jenny Luis will be a senior at Sam Houston High School this year. As part of her Project Grad requirements, she had to enroll in a summer institute and she selected the Money and Business course at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Management. Luis doesn't have her own car, so she gets up at 5am every day to get ready before riding a Metro bus across town and then she walks from the bus stop down the road, across campus to make it to this class.

"For me, my career, I don't want to be sitting in an office for eight hours in front of a computer screen. You know, I want to be out there, talking to people -- communications. And I met some of those people that work in something that I would like to do when we went to see the Houston Texans, their people that work for them. So that was a great experience."

Luis is one of 31 students who participated in the business course. Rice Professors took them on field trips to places like Reliant Stadium, El Paso Energy and AIM Investments. The four-week course also took them through the fundamentals of business: students were taught how to invest in the stock market and manage a portfolio, how to make ethical business decision and how to translate business ideas into reality. Rice Lecturer Jill Foote directs the student program. She says Money and Business 101 course is designed for students who might have a harder time accessing this kind of information within their communities.

"They're from economically disadvantaged areas, so they don't have the same type of opportunities that, you know a student living in Bellaire of living in River Oaks is going to have. And we wanted to give the promising students, those who are interested in business, you know exposure to both the learning process of business, but also to, you know, places they might want to work in the future or the opportunity to get mentors."

Foote says the philosophy behind the program is there is a great amount to be gained by having a diverse student body. Fermin Mendoza is going to be a senior at YES College Preparatory School. He hopes to attend Brown University to study business technology and says he benefited most from the interactions with people in the business community.

"Seeing first-hand what a leader does and just trying to figure out for myself what it takes to be a leader. And another thing that I also enjoyed was meeting new people throughout Houston, throughout the other schools and knowing that they're -- that we're all equally motivated. Houston students are motivated."

Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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