When asked by Education Pioneers to think of a project that would give back to the community, I considered my own dreams and experiences. As a daughter of Vietnamese refugees, one of my most prominent dreams from childhood was to attend college. Fortunately for me, I was able to turn my dream into a definitive vision and, finally, into reality.
Drawing from my college experiences, I thought about the way I was able to complete my college education. At first it was tough. I had very little experience writing research papers, thinking critically, or analyzing information. I also found it difficult to navigate careers and prepare for job interviews since I knew very few individuals who had gone through the process. I was lucky that I was able to find a support system that helped me through college. However, I realize that many first generation college students do not.
For our community project, I wanted to help students who grew up in similar circumstances as I did. I wanted to provide a program that would help them develop the critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills that are vital to success in a global economy. This simple vision was the basis for the creation of the Student Consultancy Program.
I felt the best way to help students cultivate these skills was through the case study method, and I envisioned a series of workshops that would introduce students to the case study method and have them present an answer to an issue that was relevant to the local community. I wanted the students to work in teams to think through solutions to the issue and then present their solutions to judges who would be business and academic leaders from the local community.
My Analyst Fellowship colleagues Naihobe Gonzalez, Stephanie Nguyen, and Lindsay Waldron agreed with the importance of a Student Consultancy Program. Naihobe has years of experience mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and KIPP Through College and wanted a chance to again positively impact underserved students. Stephanie was Executive Director at Massachusetts Youth Leadership Foundation and saw an opportunity to contribute her years of experience leading a non-profit organization. Lindsey taught middle school students in Boston through Citizens Schools and wanted to apply her expertise in curriculum development and teaching to this team. Our joint experience and passion has proven invaluable to turning this vision to reality.
After many meetings and late night calls, we decided to focus our workshops on the following areas:
- Introduction to the Case Study Method and Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOT) Analysis
- Research and Analysis
- Marketing and Branding
- Presenting to Audiences
- Capstone Final Presentation
We felt that each of these focus areas would provide our students with the framework they needed to answer the question “How can Gap win back the teen market?” The next steps were to create a curriculum for each of these workshops, which we will cover in future blog posts. But first we had to figure out how we would finance our program.
Our next blog post will be on how we developed a successful fundraising strategy that enabled us to turn our vision for the Student Consultancy Program into a reality!
To learn more about the Analyst Fellows’ Student Consultancy Program, please visit http://www.studentconsultancyprogram.org/.
By Angela Le, 2012 Analyst Fellow