UVa's Darden School Looks to the Future

By: Matt Holmes Email
By: Matt Holmes Email

Wednesday March 26, 2008

Graduate students and their professors got back to basics Wednesday as UVa's Darden School of Business helped a group of third- and fourth-graders from Greer Elementary to learn about business on "Take a Kid to School Day."

They studied the story of an imaginary girl named Julia, who moves to a new town and starts walking dogs in her neighborhood to make money.
The students from Greer spent the day building Julia a business model.

"They learned about how Julia started her business, kind of how she got the idea, how she decided what to charge for her business and also how she marketed it and was able to get customers," explained Darden Second Year Folake Omotola.

Realizing the 21st century need for higher education, a group of students at Darden came up with this idea for a "Take a Kid to Class Day." They say allowing the kids to spend time around positive role models is a bonus.

"Bringing them to a college campus, having them interact with college students and graduate students and sitting in in the classes and doing what they do, just gives them a glimmer of what's possible and what they have to look forward to," said Erika James, an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Darden.

"Normally what they see [are] entertainers or athletes and they look up to that as who they're going to become," explained Darden First Year Therese Meawad. "That might be okay, but not everyone's going to go into sports."

As these kids threw around ideas to help Julia get her business off the ground, their Darden mentors and their teachers all shared in the amazement of these young minds at work.

"They are so bright. They have a lot of energy. They ask a lot of questions," Omotola gushed. "I don't know that I expected them to be so engaged and I'm really excited that they are."

"Hopefully they'll be Darden students," Meawad added.

It was the first "Take a Kid to Class Day." Officials at Darden say they hope to repeat the program next year and expand it to other elementary schools.


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