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Empowering Women in Business - Summer program earns high marks from participants


In partnership with the Purdue University Summer College for High School Students, the Daniels School's Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Business recently offered an annual summer program for college credit, the Empowering Women in Business Fun-Sized Course.

Designed for young women in high school, the five-day residential credit-bearing course on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus included hands-on activities to promote team building and skills in leadership, confidence and negotiation. The program introduced students to the business principles of economics, strategy, marketing, supply chain and finance, while other fun and engaging activities provided a glimpse of life as a Purdue Boilermaker.

“That helps them imagine themselves at the business school, but more important, also imagine themselves in a business career,” says Cara Putman, director of the Brock-Wilson Center. “When you have high school students who are good at math and science, they are traditionally pushed toward engineering and STEM without a recognition that business is actually a fantastic place for young women.”

More than 100 students took part in the course in 2021, while this year’s course attracted 113 participants over two weeks in July.

“To keep expanding, we needed to break the 2022 summer course into two components,” Putman says. “It was the same content and curriculum each week, but allowed students to participate with a cap of 60 students instead of 100. That gave them more engaged interaction with each other, as well as with faculty and staff, with the intent that they can envision Purdue and the Daniels School as their future home.”

Putman says the overall mission of the Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Business is to prepare women to overcome gender obstacles in the workplace, as well as to lead and excel in both a diverse workforce and a changing social climate.

“This summer experience plays into that by bringing high school juniors and seniors to campus so they can get exposed to what college is like, interact with top faculty, and also learn more about what business really is through a team pitch competition that gives the course structure and a focal point,” she says.

Participants give the program high marks. “My school encouraged us to come to this camp,” says Leyla Benjelloun from Fishers, Indiana. “It was a good way to expand and use our summer and was a great experience overall, especially the pitch competition. I would definitely recommend it to others who are interested in business.”

Another participant, Oliana Ozbaki from Plymouth, Michigan, attended the camp last year and chose to participate in the program again because she wants to major in business. “The biggest takeaway for me was making the key connections to ensure that I have the time of my life at Purdue in the future and that I build on making new experiences,” she says.

“My immediate takeaway was getting the college experience,” adds participant Allison Melvin, who attends high school in Chicago Heights, Illinois. “I'm looking to be an engineering major, but whatever career path I take, I'm going to need business skills and I'm happy to have learned them here and apply them in different classes. I feel like I'm ready for whatever the future holds.”

The Brock-Wilson Center plans to expand on the summer camp.

“We want to better reach young women and help them see themselves at the business school,” Putman says. “Especially as we’re coming out of COVID, people are hungry for community even more than they were before. The Brock-Wilson Center is a place where young women can find a place where they belong, where they are welcomed, and where they can get the best experience possible while they’re at Purdue.”

To that end, Putman welcomes contributions from alumni and other donors. “The Brock-Wilson Center would not exist without donor support,” she says. “Every gift makes a difference in helping young women determine what their future is going to look like and whether business and the Daniels School are part of that future.”