Program connects students to professional world

Members of GEM outside the Storer Auditorium in the Business School. Courtesy of Business School administration
Members of GEM outside the Storer Auditorium in the Business School. Courtesy of Business School administration
Members of GEM outside the Storer Auditorium in the Business School // Courtesy of Business School administration

Aiming to provide top female business students with networking opportunities, the Gateway to Excellence through Mentorship program includes several professional women in the business community.

The product of a meeting between Dean Barbara Kahn, Vice-Dean Linda Neider and Janice Gonzalez, president-elect of Miami-Dade’s Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the GEM program involves a series of networking events with business professionals

Students are ultimately placed with mentors to learn important aspects of professionalism.

“The concept of having continuous networking seminars is the key to the program,” said Eliana Baddour, a student involved with GEM. “The people I’ve met along the way are models to follow. GEM is all about lasting impressions of wisdom. I feel honored to be a part of it, especially in its stage of introduction.”

Fifty women were invited a session titled “First Impressions,” of which 47 attended. Students were required to submit their résumés to continue with the GEM program.

“The first workshop was in the business school on networking and how to carry yourself,” said Marissa Rose, a sophomore in GEM.

Students were selected on the basis of academic performance and leadership qualities, and must at least be of sophomore standing at the university.

Janice Gonzalez of the Women’s Chamber, a Miami alumna, invited participants to the event in downtown at “Club 50” in the Viceroy Hotel.

“It was a private function in a normally open space,” said Priscilla Rivera, an academic advisor in the business school who accompanied the GEM students.

The business school recently received a $5,000 grant from the Citizens’ Board for GEM, which will be used to offset the costs of transportation for students other mentoring event off campus.

“I think [the event] was exciting, in that the girls got to see professional business people and how they network and interact,” Donno said.

Janice Gonzalez of the Women’s Chamber also spent time introducing students to the professionals, although students were encouraged to take initiative.

“Primarily it was up to us to introduce ourselves [at this event],” Rose said.

She spoke with a representative from Bank United and ultimately reached out to Suzanne Wheatley, vice president at Bank United, as her mentor.

Students who did not find a mentor at this event were formally paired with mentors at a luncheon on Oct. 29, hosted by the Women’s Chamber of Commerce. The GEM students will forge relationships with their mentors throughout the course of the program.

“Hopefully [the relationship] lasts beyond this semester,” said Rivera, who mentioned that the business school hopes to continue the GEM program to account for the growing interest from businesswomen to mentor female business students.

This program builds on one of the pillars of Kahn’s vision for the business school: outreach into the business world to establish partnerships with students and the business community.

Outside of GEM, there is a general mentoring program open to all business students that involves local professionals and also aims to advance students’ professionalism and foster a strong work ethic.