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AIM and WEB Programs Introduce High Schoolers to Business Concepts

September 14, 2021

The 2021 Accounting and Information Management (AIM) Academy and Women Empowered through Business (WEB) Institute presented virtually by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Haslam College of Business wrapped up over the summer, with a total of 19 students taking part.

AIM is designed for underrepresented students, first-generation college students and students on free or reduced lunch with an interest in accounting. WEB introduces young women from diverse backgrounds to the fields of business with an emphasis on information management, analytics, coding and technology. Both programs require that applicants be sophomores in high school with a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Some of the sessions this year’s students participated in included “Running Your Business with Accounting,” “Virtual Business Communications” and “Developing an Analytical Mindset to Leverage Emerging Technologies Throughout an Organization,” as well as sessions devoted to different business disciplines (e.g., marketing, supply chain management), tools commonly used in business, like algorithms, Excel spreadsheets and Python software, plus periods for ACT preparation. Haslam’s Office of Diversity and Community Relations (ODCR) staff and faculty from several departments organize and run the events each year.

Clarence Vaughn, director of ODCR, said the 2021 programs were a success. “I think we had really good engagement from the students,” Vaughn said. “From their responses each day about what they learned the day before and what they were looking forward to that day, to the feedback they gave on the surveys we sent out afterward, we had a lot of positive commentary.”

Speaking at the combined closing session for both programs, Camryn Kim, a rising junior from Paideia Academy in Knoxville, said, “My greatest takeaway was learning about so many different fields in business and being able to see what they're about. I think I especially found finance really fun, and I was really surprised by that, and by cybersecurity, because those are two things I was never really interested in before.”

For Nolan Du, a rising junior from Farragut High School, the ACT preparation periods were surprisingly helpful.

“My favorite part was the ACT prep; it was very informative,” he said. “At the beginning of the program, we were asked to rate our interest level in the ACT, and I remember ranking it low. But after learning about it, my interest is much higher.”

"I took away a lot,” Dominique Scott, a rising junior from Central High School in Memphis, Tennessee, said. “It helped me to realize there is more to accounting and finance than just numbers and more to coding that just putting things into the computer."

Based on the student feedback, Vaughn is optimistic that many of those who took part in the AIM and WEB programs will return in 2022 for the Business Education for Talented Students (BETS) program, which gives high school seniors from diverse, underrepresented backgrounds more exposure to business concepts, after which, he hopes they will choose to attend UT that fall.

“We always want them to come here, but, in any case, we hope that we have prepared them to go to college somewhere,” he says. “Our matriculation percentage to go on to college is around 90 percent, and the percent that come to UT is around 60 percent.”

For more information about these programs, please contact Clarence L. Vaughn III, director, Office of Diversity and Community Relations, at cvaugh27@utk.edu

CONTACT:

Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu