Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 9:04 AM PDT


The Summer Business Institute (SBI) is taking place this week.  SBI is a program designed to encourage underrepresented minority students to attend college.  African American, Hispanic, and Native students who have just finished their junior year in high school participate in the program.  They spend the week on campus taking classes taught by Albers faculty, living in the dorms, navigating campus, and doing company visits. 


This is the ninth year of the program.  The 25 students in this year’s class come from 20 different high schools in the Seattle area.  Carl Marino, a former high school teaching, directs the program, and Barb Hauke, our marketing director, provides logistical support.  Six Albers students are serving as counselors.  It turns out that having our students as counselors is one of the most important and compelling parts of the student experience.  With the students serving as roll-models, they provide the participating students with important advice on how to navigate the college admissions process and how to be successful once they are on campus.


Over the years, we have been fortunate to have a number of firms support the program, including Costco Wholesale, Washington Mutual, BECU, Wells Fargo, and Qwest.  Still, we struggle to raise money for the program, and it is such a great program it should be an easier sell!  While the program is targeted at students in the Seattle metro area, we have had participants from such places as Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California.  Somehow they manage to find us!


One important part of the experience is the company visits we do.  Here, the students get to see inside various organizations, usually one of the sponsoring companies, and hear from firm leaders.  Another part of the experience is a group project that draws on the classes taken and the outside visits.  Students end the program with a presentation of their project results.  This is always an inspiring part of the program when we get to see how much the students have learned.


A few years ago we started inviting parents to the closing luncheon.  We had not anticipated what an important change this would prove to be, because it allowed us to provide them with information on the college admissions process and the possibilities for financial aid.  Most of these students would be first generation college students, so the family is not familiar with how these processes work, and frequently they do not have places to turn to find this information.  Especially important is to make sure that families know they should not look at the sticker price of SU and conclude they cannot afford to attend.  They need to know that programs such as the Costco Scholarship Program can make SU affordable.


There are many SBI success stories.  One is Jonathan Bryant, who participated in SBI after his junior year at Kennedy High School.  He ultimately enrolled as a freshman at SU and went on to graduate from Albers with a finance degree.  Upon graduating from Albers, Jon took a position with a private equity firm in Bellevue.


Another great story is Sandra Amolo.  Sandra was a student at Shorecrest High School when she participated in SBI. She enrolled in Albers as a marketing major, and has been a counselor for SBI for the last three years. She has taken advantage of many programs at SU, including an internship in Belize, and earlier this year took first place in the Northwestern Mutual Sales Competition.  After she completed her SBI work this week, she had to rush off to Washington, DC for a summer internship at the Smithsonian Institute. 


SBI has been a very valuable program for the many students who have participated over the years.  Congratulations to Carl, Barb, our counselors and the participating faculty for delivering another excellent program to this year’s 25 students!