University of Southern California

USC leadership Camp Trains Minority Students in Business Basics
USC Leventhal Building Pipeline of High Schoolers Interested in Accounting, Finance Careers
July 5, 2007 • by News at Marshall

About 50 African-American and Latino students, drawn largely from high schools throughout California, will take part in the fifth Summer Leadership Program at the University of Southern California's Leventhal School of Accounting from July 15 to July 21.

"This program offers underrepresented students the opportunity to develop skill sets that we believe will give them a competitive advantage in the business world," said program Director Kendall Simmonds, a professor of clinical accounting at Leventhal. "We hope to inspire them to pursue a college degree, and a career, in finance or accounting, fields that have been challenged to attract great young people such as these."

The program is underwritten by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which also will host the students as they "shadow" PWC professionals on their workday during the program. More than half of this year's Leadership Program students, mostly juniors- and seniors-to-be, will come from Southern California high schools. Another 30 percent will come from the Bay Area and elsewhere in California. The rest will come from other parts of the country.

During the program, students undertake an intensive primer on business basics, focused in accounting and finance, said Simmonds. Professors also provide basic training in management, communications and other business roles.

"They learn a cross-section of putting together a business," Simmonds said. "Each group is given a case and they have to put together a company, assign themselves roles as officers, create two years of projected financial statements and explain their plans. Their audience is a lending company and they’ll have to pitch their businesses."

Classes are taught by a group of professors from the USC Marshall School of Business, of which USC Leventhal is a part. In addition to Simmonds, professors taking part in the program include:

  • Leventhal Dean Randolph Beatty;
  • Lawrence Harris, a former chief economist for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who is Fred V. Keenan Chair of Finance and Professor of Finance and Business Economics at USC Marshall;
  • Robert H. Trezevant, an associate professor at Leventhal;
  • Sharoni Denise Little, an assistant professor of clinical at Marshall's Center for Management Communications.

In addition to the professors, USC Marshall's Director of Undergraduate Student Services Guillermina Molina-Sabatini and Director of Admissions Tiffiani Frye teach the students how to qualify for admission to Marshall or Leventhal, and the opportunities they can realize upon getting into USC.

Beatty, USC Marshall Dean James G. Ellis and PriceWaterhouseCoopers senior partner Kevin Roach will be among those welcoming the students with the kickoff to coursework at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, July 16.

Students are chosen based on their grades and other school achievements. Participants chosen for the program live in dorms on the USC campus with free room and board.

Students are broken up into groups of five, and assigned two college-age student counselors for the duration of the camp. They aren't allowed to have cell phones or cars during the program, to keep them focused on the classes and projects.

Almost all of the students who have gone through the program in its first four years have gone on to college, Simmonds said. They are highly sought by USC and other top schools around the country.


About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.