Students dream big in CBA academy

CBA Dean Donde Plowman talks to high school seniors in the Dream Big Academy last week.
CBA Dean Donde Plowman talks to high school seniors in the Dream Big Academy last week.

UNL’s College of Business Administration hosted the inaugural DREAM BIG Academy July 8-11, which brought soon-to-be high school seniors from across the state to Lincoln to explore college life and business concepts first-hand. The academy emphasized diversity by showing students how their unique qualities benefit them in a positive way. DREAM BIG is an acronym for many of those strengths: Develop, Risk, Empower, Achieve, Maximize, Build, Innovate and Grow.

The 38 students in the academy lived in the residence halls and completed hands-on assignments by visiting businesses, working on group projects, listening to CBA alumni relate their career experiences and learning from UNL professors.

Dean Donde Plowman has been working to create the academy since she took her position of dean more than two years ago.

“We have been planning and dreaming this for a long time, and it’s totally exceeded any of our expectations for what we thought could happen this first time out,” Plowman said.

For one assignment, students interviewed owners and staff of stores to get new insights into how businesses are run.

“We’re supposed to go to different stores and look at what their mission is, what they are selling, what they need to improve and what they had done well,” said Jessica Stednitz from Bellevue West High School.

In addition to the team projects, students also attended college preview courses in accountancy, finance, economics, marketing and management taught by CBA faculty. The new supply chain management option being offered at CBA was particularly intriguing to many of the students.

Jocelyn Jacora Eusery from Millard West High School said after learning about supply chain management she would likely pursue it as her major in college. Stednitz said she is destined to be a certified public accountant.

Current UNL students served as mentors for the academy participants. Mark Moulton Jr., from Omaha Creighton Prep, said the academy opened his eyes to the support system available to students at CBA.

“I enjoyed talking to the academic counselors and how they treat us and interact with us,” Moulton said. “The relationships that we’re building with fellow students and the faculty members at UNL are great.”