Published 08/02/10

Opening a world of opportunities

August 2, 2010

After taking part in the sixth PricewaterhouseCoopers Accounting Careers Leadership Institute (PwCACLI), Francisco Davila, a rising high school senior from Puerto Rico, reflected on the memorable experience.

In just a week, he developed relationships with students from around the country, interacted with professionals from PwC, and learned about opportunities that await him in college and beyond – through a possible career in accounting. “It was one of the best weeks of my life,” he says.

His confidence was sky high and rightly so. He was just part of a team that – in front of a full room of family members, friends, Bryant professors, and PwC executives – showed what they learned by presenting an auditor’s report analyzing the financials of Papa John’s. Before leaving, he introduced his parents to a PwC partner who he met during the week.

That PwC tax partner, Bob Calabro ’88, who also is a Bryant Trustee, applauded the 46 rising high school seniors from around the country for their efforts. “The future is in great hands,” he says.

During the first five years of the PwCACLI, which introduces Latino/a and African American, or Black rising high school seniors to the accounting profession, nearly 200 students have participated in the program and more than half have gone on to apply for admission to Bryant. Earlier this year, Bryant received a $150,000 grant from PwC for a three-year extension of PwCACLI.

“I am extremely proud to be both a Bryant alumnus and a partner at PwC and to have had the opportunity to be part of a program that has impacted so many students’ lives for the better,” Calabro says.

Open opportunities by giving back

Eloma Johnson ’12 (Franklin, MA) knows how much of an impact the PwCACLI can have. Before his senior year of high school, Johnson came to Bryant to take part in a similar program called the Bryant University Institute for Leadership Development (BUILD), which introduces multicultural students to careers in business.  By the end of the week, Bryant became his first choice college.

Johnson applied to be a counselor for PwCACLI so he could show the students the limitless opportunities that await them in college and their careers. “I wanted to be a resource for them and to be able to provide them with help and advice,” explains Johnson.

"I loved working with the students and watching them grow into a stronger leader each day," adds PwCACLI counselor Nikita Gittens '13 (Bridgeport, CT). "They really used every critique that was given to them and bettered themselves and their team, while having fun the entire time."

Another counselor, Islindy Merius ’13 (Providence, RI) says that after taking part in the PwCACLI, she is now pondering changing her concentration to accounting.

“I hope the students gained insight about Bryant, and PwC, as well as what the accounting profession has to offer,” she says. “Hopefully they will come to Bryant to study accounting or one of one of the other interesting disciplines.”

As the first in her family to attend college in the United States, Maria Carranza ’11 (Worcester, MA), became a counselor because she wanted to instill in the students the importance of education and being an active member in the community.

“I feel a responsibility to give back to the people, community, and institutions that have helped me to get where I am now,” she says.

Career opportunities around the globe

During an earlier summer leadership institute at Bryant, a teambuilding exercise challenged groups of high school sophomores to throw a ping pong ball in a bucket a few feet away while their eyes were covered with a blindfold.

It was only an hour or so into a program called Linkages in International Business & Foreign Affairs Empowerment for Youth (LIFE) but the participants were enthusiastic in their support of each other. In between tips on how hard to throw the ball or in what direction, teammates encouraged, “Don’t give up!” “You can do this!”

This scene helped kickoff the two-day institute that was designed to introduce the 29 participants to opportunities available to them through careers in international business. The program, which took place for the second year in a row at Bryant, was spearheaded by Cheryl Watkins Snead ’06H, president and CEO of Banneker Industries and a Bryant Trustee.

Workshops led by Bryant faculty members explored topics in multicultural relations, international business, geography, and foreign affairs. 

“We also share with participants important skills, such as team building, time management, career planning and course mapping, which they can apply not only in high school but as they prepare for college,” says Snead.  “In addition, the program allowed students to take a serious look at Bryant, and helped them realize that going to college is an achievable goal.”

Appreciating diversity

In the nearly two months since the program took place, counselor Bianca Matarese ’13 (North Providence, RI) says she has stayed in touch with the students and looks forward to serving as a mentor when they begin the college search.

“I hope the students learned that college is an attainable goal and that their multicultural backgrounds are an asset in the business world, especially in international business,” says Matarese.

Anthony Mam ’11 (Cranston, RI) who served as a counselor the last two years, adds, “My favorite part of working with the students was talking to them one-on-one about their interests and why they wanted to take part in the program. They are very intelligent and already have good heads on their shoulders.”

Katelyn O’Malley ’11 (Holden, MA), who has experience assisting with international applications in Bryant’s Admission Office, says the students she worked with were very interested in continuing their studies in international business.

“I think they realized that it is important to understand different cultures when working overseas and the complications that can arise if you don’t take the time to learn about other cultures,” she says.