University of Delaware
The Lerner College holds its honors reception.

Lerner student successes

College celebrates executive mentor partners, outstanding student achievements


2:37 p.m., May 30, 2014--Sunny skies and spring breezes made the perfect setting for celebrating the partnerships of the Executive Mentor Scholars (EMS) Program and student academic successes in the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.

Participants in the EMS Program came together for a barbecue and networking to reflect on their experiences through the year, while the academic honors and achievement of Lerner College students were recognized in award ceremonies hosted by all five departments during two special events earlier this month.

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Executive Mentors Scholars BBQ

This year’s EMS Program, which is an educational resource offered by the Lerner College that establishes mentor-student relationships by matching executives and their professional backgrounds with students and their career objectives, included 55 new mentees for a total of 95 mentor/mentee partnerships. The partners came together for a barbecue celebration on Thursday, May 8, on UD’s Newark campus.

Jill Panté, assistant director of the Lerner College satellite Career Services Center (CSC), said the program is all about establishing meaningful partnerships and was started six years ago because the college wanted to provide students with a more hands-on resource to help them make potential career decisions. She stated that the University has excellent connections with its alumni, with many eager to become involved in the program.

“We make an effort to pair student interests with executive expertise so a student interested in finance has the opportunity to learn about those aspects of a firm that happen on an everyday basis,” said Panté. “The experience also gives mentors the opportunity to share their advice and experience on a variety of related topics like career planning and resume building.”

David Sang, a junior finance major and president of the student-led Blue Hen Investment Club (BHIC), which has a $1.5 million portfolio, heard about the EMS Program through upperclass students and found a meaningful relationship with his mentor Mark Bonapace.

Sang explained that Bonapace, who works as a managing director in the real assets division at JPMorgan Chase in New York, is responsible for a number of real estate funds.

“So far I have been up to New York twice for office visits and found them to have some very practical value,” said Sang. “First, I was able to sit in on a few investment committee meetings and gain insight on what factors the committee looks at most in investment decisions. Interestingly, I found they focused more on qualitative and competitive factors rather than quantitative valuation.”

This insight came in handy to Sang in his leadership role with the BHIC, where he said he was able bring back lessons learned and compare processes. Networking was another added bonus Sang found through the mentorship.

“Mark was also able to connect me with a few ex-investment banking analysts that work in his group,” said Sang. “I got the chance to talk about their stints in investment banking, the pros and cons and whether or not it was the right fit for me. They also offered to connect me with their former colleagues in investment banking if that was a path I ended up choosing.” 

Although Sang hadn’t thought about a career in real estate asset management, he found the EMS Program a great addition to his undergraduate experience.

“The program has still provided me with much relevant advice for my career path,” said Sang. “I am thankful to have this connection with Mark and I look forward to continuing the mentorship during my senior year and throughout my career.” 

The EMS Program isn’t just for undergraduates though, noted Paul Rollison, assistant director in the satellite CSC.

“We’ve had 23 graduate students participating in the program since the fall semester,” said Rollison. “It provides great opportunities for our international students to interact with executives associated with their career fields.”

One of those students is Bei Shi, who is completing her master of science in accounting. She was impressed with the assistance and feedback she received from David Ford at Strategy House, said Rollison, who followed up with Shi after her participation.

“He helped review Bei’s resume and cover letter and provided advice about career options and continuing education plans,” said Rollison of the pair. Shi will attend Georgia State University in the fall to begin her doctorate in accounting. 

Other graduate student pairings included Gil Kaminski, a master of science in finance student studying financial engineering, who interacted with Robert Dressler, associate patient safety officer and vice chair of medicine at Christiana Care Health System.

According to Kaminski, the EMS Program and her mentorship with Dressler helped her define a future career path.

“The majority of my academic background and work experience are in engineering, both as a biomedical engineer and as a master student of financial engineering,” said Kaminski. “The mentoring process helped me realize that my true interest was to go back to the life sciences industry in a business development and strategy role, and take part in the exciting changes this industry will undergo in upcoming years.”

Dressler then helped Kaminski target a path to achieve that goal.

“I was successful in gaining admission to the Wharton MBA in Health Care Management, a unique program that prepares young professionals for a business career in the health care and life sciences industry,” said Kaminski.

Rollison said experiences like Kaminski’s have led other students to become interested and there are already approximately 20 new graduate student applications on file for next year’s program.

“The guidance from mentors often helps support the advice and information provided by the Lerner College Career Services office, so we encourage students to get involved,” said Rollison.

Honors and achievement

In its annual recognition of undergraduate academic honors and achievement, the Lerner College hosted award ceremonies by department on Friday, May 9.

"The Lerner faculty and I take great pride in presenting awards to our most deserving students,” said Bruce Weber, dean of the Lerner College. "Great educational outcomes result from dedicated professors interacting with curious, motivated students about important topics of interest. All of these are on display today.”

Weber added that parents and families are an essential part of the ceremony.

"We deliberately invite our honorees’ parents to attend and celebrate with us since we recognize they equipped their sons and daughters with a desire to learn and to perform to the best of their ability,” said Weber. "The students receive the plaques but the parents and faculty make it possible.”

Also making the celebration possible, said Weber, is the kindness and generosity of donors and friends whose support enables the college to offer comprehensive funding packages as well as fellowships and scholarships to students.

After the ceremony, students and families in the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management enjoyed a reception at the on-campus Courtyard by Marriott, which is also home to the Marriott Center for Tourism and Hospitality and site of discovery learning opportunities for students.

Families and their students in the Departments of Accounting and MIS, Business Administration, Economics and Finance celebrated with afternoon receptions in the atrium of Alfred Lerner Hall.

A program with complete lists of student honorees by department, including detailed award descriptions and specific recipients, is available online.

Article by Kathryn Meier

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson, Ambre Alexander Payne and Doug Baker

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