Ian Erazo-White during Gateway Program
December 7, 2016
Misti Huedepohl and Tom Snee

Brooke Kelley knew pretty much from the start she would come to the University of Iowa.

Kelley was a participant in the inaugural Tippie College of Business Gateway Program in 2015, a weeklong introduction to higher education and business careers for high school students from underrepresented groups. She arrived on campus in June as a soon-to-be senior at Nevada High School in Nevada, Iowa; within hours, she knew she would be back in Iowa City.

“I fell in love with the Tippie College,” says Kelley. “The university’s campus is so beautiful, everything is so close together, and the people in Tippie are like a big family. They really got to know me and supported me and wanted me to succeed.”

Kelley is not alone in coming back to the UI. Of the 25 participants in the 2015 Tippie Gateway Program, she and 10 others enrolled at the university, eight of them as business majors.

The number of participants in the second Gateway session held this past June increased to 35 high school juniors, most from Iowa, all from minority, first-generation, or low-income groups.

Tippie Gateway participants are exposed to the campus, professors, and successful alumni in business and they learn more about the majors offered in the Tippie College. In addition, they discover career opportunities in business by hearing from Tippie alumni and local business professionals and get hands-on business experience with simulations, case studies, and company visits.

“I really enjoyed creating a presentation about our business, Forbidden Planet Pizza,” says Ian Erazo-White, now a Columbus Catholic High School senior from Waterloo, Iowa. “It gave me the vibe as if I were giving a real business proposal, which might be something I’d experience in college.”

Just as important, the students learn about the application, admission, and financial aid process for colleges and universities, as well as what they need to do during their senior years to prepare. Because many of the participants are first-generation college students, the process may be something of a mystery to them.

“I now know what to expect from college,” Erazo-White says. “Before the program, college seemed intimidating, but after talking with students, my confidence went up because I know what to expect and how to study,” he says.

Stephen Belyn, BBA91, managing director of FTI Consulting in Chicago, took part in a panel to share his insight on the accounting major and profession with the high school students.

“I had been seeking out a soup-to-nuts approach that could attract high school students to business, especially accounting. When I learned of the Gateway Program and its mission, I thought it offers a win-win-win situation for the students, Tippie, and employers,” Stephen says.

Stephen and his wife, Pamela, have worked with the UI Foundation to create a fund to ensure the Gateway Program and its efforts will reach qualified high school students in the Chicago area.

“I appreciate the program’s initial focus on high school students in Iowa, but I believe there are also qualified students in the Chicago area, too. I am interested in reaching those students who haven’t considered attending college, let alone the University of Iowa. We are excited to tell them about the career opportunities that are possible with a Tippie business education,” he says.

Stephen has worked with an all-boy high school in the Chicago area, in an attempt to garner student interest in business at the Tippie College.

“We are trying to break down the stereotypes about Iowa. It’s early in the process, but we are off to a good start,” says Pamela, a partner at the law firm of Boodell & Domanskis LLC.

“We both believe in education,” she says. “And we recognize employers seek well-educated, qualified talent from diverse backgrounds. The high school level is an excellent place to begin to engage that applicant pool,” says Pamela.

Back on campus, Tippie organizers plan to grow and enhance future offerings for the Gateway Program.

Mark Archibald, assistant director of the first-year experience, says. “We plan to increase capacity next year to 50 students, and we want to incorporate more technology in the business case study component.”

He says students will meet remotely using Skype to communicate with industry professionals and alumni to ask questions and get feedback on the progress of student case studies.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about the Tippie Gateway Program and how you can support it, please visit tippie.uiowa.edu/gateway.