Academic advisor Justin Gomez and Orfalea leadership founded the Multicultural Business Program (MBP) four years ago to help students from underrepresented backgrounds connect and persist in their studies at Cal Poly. One of the main goals has been to introduce members to an inclusive community, with comprehensive support and resources, from their first day of classes until they graduate.
Its aptly-named “Feel Good Fridays” feature boxed lunches and representatives from various corporate partners, who speak about how their organizations create inclusive work environments, while also explaining how to overcome challenges students may face in the future.
These opportunities are instrumental in helping MBP members develop career readiness. “As a first-generation student, MBP was my first introduction to industry,” said recent alumni Jorge Valdez. “For example, before college I had no idea what to do during an interview, but MBP helped give me those skills and provide connections to industry leaders, and I wouldn’t be where I am without that.” After graduating, Valdez leveraged the professional skills he’s gained to earn a finance job at Apple.
Each incoming MBP cohort also takes three courses together: Orientation, Business Professionalism I, and Race, Culture, and Politics of the U.S. The first-year programming facilitates intimate friendships that last for students’ entire college experience.
The MBP received roughly $35,000 of support from the Spotlight Alumni Awards, which gathers notable graduates to celebrate alumni who are changing business for the better through their ethical leadership, innovation, and accomplishments. Now Orfalea’s dean Scott Dawson is planning for another impactful and celebratory evening.
Last winter, the MBP received roughly $35,000 of support from the Spotlight Alumni Awards, Orfalea’s annual alumni event, which gathers notable graduates to celebrate alumni who are changing business for the better through their ethical leadership, innovation, and accomplishments, while also raising funds for initiatives within the college.
“We used those funds from Spotlight to launch the MBP Internship Program,” says Gomez. “We now have six students working 20 hours a week as mentors. They’re also focusing on other projects that foster our student diversity, inclusion, and equity goals. Our current four-year graduation rate is now 79 percent across the college and part of that has been thanks to how we’ve been able to close the opportunity gap for multicultural students. We’ve also been using the funds for professional development opportunities. We’re actually planning an industry tour this week to visit Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers.”
This year, Orfalea’s dean Scott Dawson is planning for another impactful and celebratory evening. Spotlight 2020 is slated to be held Saturday, January 25, in San Francisco at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. As always, the proceeds will be funneled directly to a student-facing program.
The recipient this year is The Global Business Leaders Initiative, a three-pronged approach that challenges all Orfalea College students to prepare themselves to be Ready Day One as they enter an increasingly global economy and workplace.
The first pillar of the program encourages students to gain practical, hands-on experience through internships or by launching their own startups through the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The second espouses developing a global mindset through study abroad opportunities or volunteering for overseas service work. And the third focuses on their leadership skills by urging them to assume a management role within a club or organization on campus, in the process learning how to lead by example, embrace challenges, and adapt within fluid environments.
The recipient this year is The Global Business Leaders Initiative, a three-pronged approach that challenges all Orfalea College students to prepare themselves to be Ready Day One as they enter an increasingly global economy and workplace. “The Global Business Leaders program gives Orfalea students a roadmap to acquire key extracurricular competencies for launching successful careers,” says Dawson.
Like the Multicultural Business Program, the goal is to create sophisticated, culturally attuned, and community-oriented leaders prepared to work and thrive as they shape the global business environment of tomorrow.
“The Global Business Leaders program evolved over several years of extensive input from employers, faculty, and students,” says Dawson. “It gives Orfalea students a roadmap to acquire key extracurricular competencies for launching successful careers.”
Hit the link to learn more about the MBP, or sign up here for a special evening with fellow Orfalea alumni at Spotlight—with the added benefit of helping to create future Global Business Leaders. And to learn more about supporting the Orfalea College of Business, click here.
(Top) MBP members Francesca Ramos, Darian Dudley, Abel Barerra, and Meera Patel. Photo by Chris Leschinsky.