There are a lot of guinea pigs and lab rats running around the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
That’s what students participating in this year’s Junior Year Experience are affectionately called at times because they are the explorers breaking ground for what will eventually be called the Huntsman Scholar Program.
Now, before getting offended by such terminology, one should understand these “guinea pigs” are taking advantage of incredible opportunities that have them exploring such places as England, France, Belgium, Brazil, Peru and Chile. These are “lab rats” who are learning to think in new ways and are gaining direct international experience that will give them an incredible edge on the competition after graduation. They are, in reality, pioneers, the very first to be called Huntsman Scholars.
The Huntsman School of Business has two programs in place that give students the opportunity to understand how governments and businesses interact with each other on a global scale. One is the Summer Study Abroad Program. The other is the Junior Year Experience.
The Summer Study Abroad Program sent 42 students to Brazil, Chile and Peru in 2007, the program’s inaugural summer. Summer 2008 takes students back to South America and sends another group to Asia, where they will visit South Korea, China and Vietnam.
In fall 2007, the Junior Year Experience sent 22 students to London, Brussels and Paris. In spring 2007, another group of students went to New York City and Washington, D.C.
Both of these programs will become part of the Huntsman Scholar Program. Fall 2008 freshmen students will enroll in the program as Huntsman Scholar Candidates in hopes of qualifying to be official Huntsman Scholars at the beginning of their junior year.
The Summer Study Abroad program is open to Huntsman Scholar Candidates and to other qualified students looking to get a better global perspective, according to Stacey Hills, a co-director of the program.
Only Huntsman Scholars in their junior year, however, will be participating in the Junior Year Experience, Hills said. One distinct benefit of being a Huntsman Scholar or Huntsman Candidate is that these students will qualify for substantial financial assistance to help cover travel costs.
The kind of international exploration that goes on in the Junior Year Experience teaches students to see beyond their academic training, Hills said. She was one of the Huntsman faculty members who led the group that went to London, Brussels and Paris in fall 2007.
“It gives our business students a chance to see that they can use the business skills they are learning in a variety of contexts,” she said. “They’ll see how to use those skills in different countries. They’ll see how to use them with not-for-profits. They’ll see how to use them in traditional government roles.”
The two-week trip was just part of a semester-long class that included weeks of classroom preparation and several weeks of processing after the trip, said Shannon Peterson (’90), co-director of the Huntsman Scholars Program.
On the trip the students were on a tight schedule that gave them the opportunity to meet with business leaders at Disneyland Paris, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Capgemini and Crédit Agricole in Paris. In Brussels they met with leaders at the European Commission and European Parliament, Caterpillar, NATO and Obelis. In London, they visited British Parliament, Deloitte and Nike.
Liz Allred is the program administrator of international affairs at the Huntsman School of Business. She makes sure the logistics and itinerary for the travel portion of the program support its goals for the students. She works with alumni and other friends of the Huntsman School who help set up the high-level briefings the students enjoy.
Allred says she wants to see students get beyond what she calls “silo thinking.”
“Students need to get beyond their principle focus of study and add some layers and textures to it that allow them to have better thinking skills,” Allred said.
Mary Price, who was a senior majoring in business with a minor in personal financial planning, said the program helped her see things in new ways. She graduated in December.
“When you are totally out of your comfort zone, immersed in a new culture, it gives you not only insight into other cultures but also yourself,” Price said. “I think our experience taught us things we could have never learned if we had been limited to textbook study in a Logan classroom.”
Kade Applegate, a senior majoring in international business, said he appreciated the chance they had to talk directly with business and government leaders on the trip to Europe this fall.
“We had opportunities to network with a lot of people who were pretty powerful in their respective businesses or political institutions,” Applegate said.
Scott Payne, a junior majoring in international business, said the trip to Europe helped him see how he could realize his own goals.
“We had the chance to speak with people face-to-face who had accomplished what we’d like to do,” Payne said. “We could talk with them and ask them how they did it and what their work is like. It helped us visualize how we could realize our own dreams.”
Peterson said they want to identify 30 freshmen on track to become Huntsman Scholars, as well as up to 30 juniors who qualify for the honor. Fall 2008 Huntsman Scholars will spend three weeks in Leysin, Switzerland, and the Huntsman School will arrange to have business leaders meet them there.
Hills said the program in Switzerland should give students more time in Europe to process what they are learning and less time traveling to various locations. She said the pace last fall was intense.
Despite the intensity of the program, the students seem to appreciate what they got from the experience.
“This is the best class I’ve taken,” Applegate said. “The class gave us the opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other. We were able to take the principles we learned in class and see how they applied to business and politics in an international setting. It helped us see how our education is preparing us for our future careers.”
Writer: Steve Eaton, (435) 797-8640