Mike Brown and his wife, Nancy, have literally helped build a new university with their generosity.
Now in its eighth summer, the University of La Verne REACH Business Camp provides a springboard to opportunity for local high school students who need it most.
As a morning session begins on a warm summer morning, eager high school students file into a classroom in one of the oldest buildings on the University of La Verne’s main campus, ready with pens and notepads in hand to glean wisdom from one of the institution’s leading experts in business.Students take their seats and Associate Professor of Management Dr. Issam Ghazzawi explains that there will be no cell phones allowed in his classroom. They all understand and place their notepads on their desks poised to write down all of the important information they are about to learn. Talking subsides and attentive eyes and ears focus on one person: Ghazzawi.
REACH is old hat to Ghazzawi now. For nearly a decade, he has been leading this summer business camp designed to help underserved high school students realize their potential to attend college and then embark on careers that they might have otherwise thought impossible. Ghazzawi is still passionate about teaching the ropes of business and showing these students that there are many options for them beyond the walls of their high schools.
“It is a great honor for me to lead this worthy program where I can make a difference on the individuals who need our help the most,” Ghazzawi said. “These kids are great ones, but need the tools that help them gain entrance to and succeed in college and life.”
Throughout the three week camp, students are taught how to develop an idea for a business and then how to effectively run it. An important aspect of the camp is putting theory to practice with the students developing their own business plans. Upon completion, the team with the top business plan and presentation is awarded $1,000; the runners up receive $500.
Wendy Lau, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and La Verne graduate, took part in several of the activities related to REACH, including judging the students’ business plans in the final competitions. She said she saw first-hand the positive impact of this unique camp.
“This year was the first year that I was able to see REACH in action for myself and I was incredibly impressed, not only by the level of dedication of our faculty and staff, but also by the level of camaraderie and fellowship amongst the high school students and our own La Verne students who served as counselors and advisors to the group,” Lau said. “You could feel and see the change in the level of confidence in the high school students from that first breakfast to the graduation reception, and you could tell they felt inspired and empowered. I am so proud that our University continues to actively seek ways to encourage and support the next generation in their pursuit of higher education, and I am a huge fan of the REACH Program.”
This year’s REACH graduating class was filled with dedicated and talented high school students who worked diligently to develop effective business plans, but only one team could win first place. That team created a full business plan for My Sweet Creation, a dessert restaurant. Through the camp, high school students who may have not otherwise had the opportunity were given three weeks to experience college life and learn that they can attend college and succeed in the business world.