Junior Megan Iselin receives a certificate of appreciation from Dean Latha Ramchand during an event that recognized students who have maintained a 4.0 grade point average.
The start of a new semester, and certainly a new academic year, is special.
As we welcome students, new and old, as we host orientations, as we assist those moving into dorms, we are reminded of our mission – to serve students, to make a difference, to change lives.
In the last three weeks I have enjoyed meeting groups of Bauer students in different venues and the message is always loud and clear – they are here because we care.
As Megan Iselin, a junior accounting student in the Bauer Business Honors Program, the Professional Program in Accountancy, and student organization Beta Alpha Psi, describes it:
“I knew that I had made the right choice in the Bauer College of Business. My professors care about my success and want to hear about my success outside of the classroom as well. My advisors urge me to graduate on time and be as resourceful as I can. My friends share their experiences with me and encourage me to rise to my full potential rather than cutting me down. My professional contacts leave the office after work and drive to campus to share their insight with the future leaders who will push our economy to new heights. I have everything I need and more here.”
Whether it is the “I am Bauer” theme that every student believes in, or the “Where Awesome Happens” description that they attribute to Bauer College, whether it is a conversation with a student outside the elevators or a session with the Dean’s List participants, I find that the best way to start or end my day is to interact with students.
There is a momentum in the college that inspires, and it starts with students.
Bauer students – thank you for your participation, and thank you for being here. And as you promised me, keep talking to classmates and colleagues about attending classes, about graduating in four years, and participating in surveys.
And remember our mantra: Talk Bauer, Hire Bauer, Give to Bauer.
I encourage you all: Go Make Awesome Happen.
When a group of undergraduate students from the entrepreneurship program at the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the C. T. Bauer College of Business competed in a business plan competition this past weekend, they knew that the stakes were not even. Bauer undergraduates were competing against graduate students, not to mention students from Harvard, Yale and MIT.
None of this mattered to our students who are ready to compete with anyone, anytime, anywhere. And so they did.
Kudos to Bauer undergraduate students Cassandra Hoang, Bobby Jacobs, Casey McNeil, and Susan Tran, who won first place in the competition (MIT team placed second). They helped create a business plan for a technology developed by Prof. Allan Jacobson, Robert A. Welch Chair of Science and Director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at University of Houston.
The REEcycle plan, as it is known, is part of the program we adopted this year to have Bauer students put business plans around technologies provided by the University of Houston Division of Research. The REEcycle plan addresses rare earth elements (REE) used in computer memory, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, fluorescent lighting and more. Demand for these elements is outstripping supply, which is especially problematic because China produces most of the world supply and is increasingly treating them as a strategic resource. It is believed that recycling could address about 20% of the demand for REEs and reduce our reliance on Chinese exports, but to date there has not been a commercially viable method for extracting REEs from electronic components. Prof. Jacobson has developed such a method, and the REEcycle team has put a well thought out business plan around it.
We met the day after they returned from the competition, and I asked Cassandra Hoang, Bobby Jacobs, Casey McNeil, and Susan Tran, what they learned from the experience. The big takeaway for me was the power of humility in these participants. Arguably they were the “underdogs.” Yet, or rather because of this, they did everything they possibly could to more than compensate for whatever it is they were “perceived” to lack. They rehearsed for weeks ahead of time. They rehearsed the day and night before the event. They sought out and took to heart the feedback they received from alumni, faculty and friends. For sure, they received a ton of advice. No one could blame them for not trying.
And they won. They won big.
Yes, Bauer students do not need to be compared to any other group, and they can more than stand on their own ground. Yes, I don’t need to emphasize “Bauer #1, MIT #2.” Yes, “Bauer #1” says it all.
For what Bauer students possess in ample measure is what Lazlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, referred to as a skillset that Google looks for in its hires called “intellectual humility,” or the ability to continually learn and want to learn. If being the underdog comes with a large dose of intellectual humility, then Bauer students will always want to be underdogs, and refreshingly so.
Last week as I walked down the hallway to Room 302 at Melcher Hall, I noticed a sign posted outside a classroom. It read ‘Where Awesome Happens.’ Students of Bauer RED Labs posted this outside the door to RED Labs. What a true statement especially coming from students.
So how does ‘Awesome Happen’ at the Bauer College?
The very next day I had the opportunity to see ‘Awesome Happen.’ Attending the Bauer Microfinance Graduation and Pitch day on Saturday, December 7, I met with students graduating from the Microfinance program. Students in this program learn business skills, they also learn to give back by using their skills to help the community. In Houston, they assisted local Taxi cab drivers avail of microloans from the Alliance for Multicultural Services Center, helping the drivers create strong business plans and money management strategies.
Our students worked with the Ayuda Para project in Mexico to help create a homegrown salsa business. In the Navajo Nation (NM, AZ, CO, UT), they worked with local leaders on evaluating the poverty cycle and studying how education helps alleviate poverty. Our students also traveled to India and Africa and worked with local microfinance organizations to empower local citizens who had ideas for small startups that could help overcome poverty.
Serving through microfinance organizations that raise resources that can help ‘micro’ sized businesses whether in Houston or abroad, Bauer students are using their skills to help others grow. They understand that business needs to have a soul to be impactful and to create multiplier effects in the community. I was reminded of the saying that the longest distance to travel is the 18 inches between the head and the heart. Our students in the Microfinance program have traversed that distance and are making ‘Awesome Happen.’