Iowa student “fell in love” with Tippie College of Business after attending program that encourages students from underrepresented groups to consider careers in business
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brooke Kelley knew pretty much from the start she would come to the University of Iowa.

Kelley was a participant in the inaugural Tippie College of Business Gateway program in 2015, a weeklong introduction to higher education and business careers for high school students from underrepresented groups. She arrived on campus in June as a soon-to-be senior at Nevada High School in Nevada, Iowa; within hours, she knew she would be back in Iowa City.

brooke kelley portrait
Brooke Kelley

“I fell in love with the Tippie college,” says Kelley. “The university’s campus is so beautiful, everything is so close together, and the people in Tippie are like a big family. They really got to know me and supported me and wanted me to succeed.”

Kelley is not alone in coming back to the UI. Of the 25 participants in the 2015 Tippie Gateway, she and 10 others have enrolled at the university for this fall, eight of them as business majors.

The Tippie Gateway’s second session will be held June 27–July 1 with 35 high school juniors, most from Iowa, all from minority or low-income groups, and many who will be first-generation college students. They will live in Burge Residence Hall during the week, and all expenses will be paid for by scholarships from Tippie.

“Tippie Gateway participants will be exposed to the campus, professors, and successful alumni in business and will learn more about the majors offered in the Tippie College of Business,” says Mark Archibald, Tippie’s assistant director of the first-year experience and Gateway program director. “They’ll discover career opportunities in business by hearing from Tippie alumni and local business professionals and get hands-on business experience with simulations, case studies, and company visits.”

Just as important, the students will learn about the application, admission, and financial aid process for colleges and universities, as well as what they need to do during their senior years to prepare. Because many of the participants are first-generation college students, the process may be something of a mystery to them.

“We’ll show them what to do during their senior year to prepare for college, which classes to take, how to prioritize, and where to search for scholarships,” Archibald says.

Kelley found that activity most helpful. She says it helped to sharpen her academic focus during her senior year at Nevada High School, improving her grades so she qualified for direct admission to the Tippie College as a first-year student.

“I saw there was a big difference in expectations at the college level than from high school, so I improved my work during my senior year; my presentations were more professional,” she says.

It also helped her make new friendships—she still talks to six of her fellow Gateway participants most every day. Her primary career interest for now is market research, although she hasn’t ruled out owning her own yoga studio. A competitive dancer, she’s also hoping to get involved in the university’s dance programs, but she’s going to focus on her academics during her first semester.

Sarah Fisher Gardial, dean of the Tippie College of Business, says the program not only broadens the horizons of the participating students, but those of the college as well.

“Tippie Gateway provides opportunities to learn more about higher education to students who, because of their life circumstances, just haven’t been exposed to higher education,” says Gardial. “At the same time, it introduces the people in Tippie to students like Brooke, who have lived different experiences than many of us and have a great story to tell.”