The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration held the second DREAM BIG Academy July 14-17. DREAM BIG, which stands for Develop, Risk, Empower, Achieve, Maximize, Build, Innovate and Grow, provided upcoming high school seniors the opportunity to experience college, focusing on a business education and potential career opportunities. The academy emphasized diversity by showing students how their unique qualities benefit them in a positive way. ConAgra Foods partnered with CBA as a corporate sponsor this year, and Lozier Corporation and Union Pacific also provided financial support for the program.
“DREAM BIG provides an opportunity for high school students who wouldn’t normally think of UNL as part of their dream,” said Dr. Donde Plowman, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business Administration. “To be able to spend time on campus and be a part of the university and CBA community is huge in making the college decision.”
The 28 students attending the academy experienced life as a college student by living in a residence hall, completing assignments, working on group projects with student mentors and listening to CBA faculty, staff and alumni talk about their experiences in the business world.
Symone Arends, a senior at Lincoln High School, was not really sure what to expect at DREAM BIG.
“This was a great experience. I didn’t realize all the career options you have with a business degree,” Arends said. “I may or may not major in business when I attend college but knowing I can get a minor in business is huge. Attending DREAM BIG will impact my career choice once I get to college. This has made a difference for me.”
As a parent, Renee Arends wanted her daughter to realize her path at age 17 may be different once she starts college.
“I really wanted Symone to start thinking outside the box and see there are other options out there for her,” she said. “The DREAM BIG Academy has opened her eyes to a world of possibilities. It has truly been a great experience for her.”
The final day of the academy was held on the campus of ConAgra Foods in Omaha, Neb. They spent the day listening to ConAgra Foods leaders from the divisions of information technology, human resources, operations, production and finance present on everything from career options to personal finance. DREAM BIG students also toured the ConAgra Foods campus and dined in the culinary kitchen used by their top chefs. The day concluded with group presentations about their DREAM BIG experience with a dinner prepared by the ConAgra Foods top chefs.
“ConAgra Foods merged its former Corporate Explorer Camp, after three successful pilot summer camps, with DREAM BIG this year,” said Angela Jones, vice president for human resources at ConAgra Foods. “The CEC program caught the eyes of national partners and local universities. It’s a huge honor to have a Big Ten university ask us to merge our program with theirs.”
Plowman appreciates the generosity of corporate partners. “The support of ConAgra, Lozier and Union Pacific companies made DREAM BIG possible this year. Partnerships like this make life-changing events like DREAM BIG possible. We appreciate their generous support of the College of Business Administration.”