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Early Start, Unlimited Potential

Ana Mitchell, Jordan Woodard, and John Bolden III are making the adjustment to college life this summer. They began an eight-week summer session in June, taking courses in communications, math, sociology, and management information systems. Although adapting to a university setting isn’t always easy, the trio should have no difficulty adjusting to new surroundings. Consider:

  • Mitchell, who went North Central High School in Indianapolis, is the daughter of a Jamaican father and Panamanian mother, and lived in Jamaica as a toddler. By the time she was a teenager, she had visited more than 15 countries.
  • Woodard was born in Greenville, South Carolina, and moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, and Cincinnati before finishing his high school career in St. Louis.
  • Bolden moved from Peoria, Illinois, to Virginia and then Miami. His family returned to Peoria when he was in 7th-grade, and after his high school graduation has relocated to Columbus, Ohio.

The trio is part of 20 students who started school this summer through the Dr. Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program (BOP), a program that dates back to the 1960s and boasts close to 1,000 alumni. Darren Henry, the director of diversity initiatives at the Krannert School, says the early enrollment option gives students a leg up as they begin their freshman year.

"Students participate in the summer program to form bonds and relationships with other like-minded individuals seeking a successful career in business and management," Henry says. "These bonds and relationships create the foundation for an academic and social support system utilized by program participants throughout their college careers."

In addition to being frequent travelers, Mitchell, Woodard, and Bolden share another bond. All three will be following their fathers into the business world.

Mitchell’s father earned an Executive MBA from the Krannert School in 1998 and has been a marketing manager for Carrier. Like her mother, who holds a college degree in international relations, Mitchell speaks three languages. She hopes to shape her global interests into a career. "I’d like to work for an international company, and would welcome the chance to work abroad," she says. "I’m really interested in being immersed in the cultures and languages of other countries. My ultimate goal would be to become a delegate for the United Nations."

Woodard hopes to become an entrepreneur. He was exposed to business at an early age; his father spent a quarter-century at Procter & Gamble before becoming general manager at a diaper manufacturing company, and his mother was a human resource manager. A summer entrepreneurship workshop at Northwestern University piqued his interest. "I saw that you can start something from scratch, say a coffee shop like Starbucks, and turn it into a multibillion-dollar company," Woodard says. "I would love to have the opportunity to make my own standards for my employees, and help those people to a brighter future."

Bolden’s father has been a logistics manager at Caterpillar, and he was able to tag along on "Take Your Son to Work" days. "I got familiar with how organizations work, and I think I’d like to follow in his footsteps in a big company," Bolden says. "I feel at home there. I’d like to think that I can be one of the people to lend a hand to fix some of the problems we see in business today."

Henry says the trio, and their classmates, are well on the way to building a solid foundation for their future.

"I have high expectations for BOP 2010," Henry says. "This is one of the strongest groups participating in the program within the last decade. Ana, John, and Jordan are great representations of the entire cohort.

"The students are confident, fearless, hard-working, and posses the ability to quickly adjust to new surroundings and environments. Leaders are made of these characteristics, and I'm certain there are numerous leaders in this year's class. The next wave of corporate and community leaders will contain members from this group."

For more information about the Dr. Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program, click here