Corporate Fellowships garner recognition from Triangle publication

1.4.2010 Alumni News, Article, General

Program gives minorities a leg up

Originally Posted on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 | by Sommer Brokaw
Reposted from The Triangle Tribune

Evan Raleigh received a Corporate Fellowship award to pursue a Master of Arts in Management degree.

Raleigh, a political science graduate of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, is one of several black professionals among the eight students to receive the WFU School of Business Corporate Fellowship award. The award, for eligible minority students and students who've taken a leadership role in diversity efforts, covers full tuition for the 10-month program plus a $21,000 stipend for living expenses. Fellows also get personal mentoring from a high-level executive at a major corporation, hands-on experience to enhance classroom education and a chance to get a job at their sponsor company after graduation.

"As far as the financial aspect is concerned, a graduate education for me wasn't really feasible without some financial support," Raleigh said. "Aside from the financial aspect, it's given me an opportunity to be mentored by a leading professional."

The Wake Forest M.A. in Management is an intense program specifically designed for recent liberal arts, sciences or engineering graduates who want to learn business fundamentals before beginning their careers.

"I'd recommend it to anyone who is coming from a liberal arts program and is looking to move into business," Raleigh said. "I think this program is a perfect bridge; it supplements the liberal arts education with quantitative skills you'll need in business. It's definitely pushed me, and I succeeded in things I didn't think I was good at as an undergrad."

Business Dean Steve Reinemund, former chairman and CEO of Pepsico, developed the program early this year to build a student body mirroring diversity in the workplace. He has made it a priority to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the business world, receiving national awards for those efforts. At Wake Forest, one of his first orders of business was to create and implement more meaningful ways to increase diversity among the student body.

"In a globalized economy such as ours, the most fundamental thing that business schools can do is turn out exceptional leaders who represent the diverse population of the United States and the world," Reinemund said.

Leading partners for the 2010 fellowships are Alex Lee, BB&T, Flow Automotive, Frito-Lay, Hanesbrands, Primo Direct, Reynolds American and VF Corporation. "Being this is the inaugural year of the fellowship, it's just been a blessing all the way around," said Raleigh who expects to graduate in May 2010. "I recognize the importance of laying a solid foundation for the program and helping it to grow in years to come."

The 2010 class is the most diverse in the university's history with 44 percent of the students from underrepresented groups as compared to 18 percent in 2009. "With 90 students in our program, to have just about half of those being students of color is totally unbelievable, and I think that's largely due to the fact of the Corporate Fellowship award," Raleigh said. "I know historically our programs have not been that diverse, and this program shows what can happen in terms of diversity when we offer a program like a fellowship."

Gordon Soenksen, associate dean of advancement, agrees. "In all of our Masters of Arts classes, there's no majority, there's no minority; there's just a group of students who are representative of what the world looks like," he said. "It's fascinating to see a marketplace where there is no majority because that's the makeup of the class."

The fellowship had a slow response initially, but after word got out a little over a year ago, the response increased dramatically. "Our applications for minority students are up 1500 percent from when we started, so competition for the fellowships is intense. However, we are always on the look out for students who will succeed in our program," said Derrick Boone, associate professor of marketing.

Due to the growing response Soenksen is working on securing 20 Corporate Fellowships as compared to last year's eight. "It's been fascinating to see how quickly companies grasp the ability to work with individuals who will be very important Fortune 500 business leaders in the future," he said.

To apply for summer 2010 enrollment, candidates are required to complete the online admissions application by March 1. No separate scholarship application is required. To be eligible, candidates must be recent liberal arts and sciences graduates – not business majors – and must graduate and earn their bachelor's degree between May 2009 and June 2010.

For complete application requirements, visit www.business.wfu.edu/apply. To hear a message on the awards, call (336) 758-4584.