Students create business certification program


Faced with doubtful administrators, University of Pennsylvania students raise $70,000 to kick off management program

Faced with doubtful administrators, University of Pennsylvania studentsraise $70,000 to kick off management program

Philadelphia-Recognizing the need for financial and managerial expertise,veterinary students at University of Pennsylvania (UP) have establisheda business certification program - the first student-run educational serviceof its kind.

The business seminars, which started on a small scale three years ago,now receive administrative approval as UP officials agree to recognize andmanage the 14-course certificate program. Their acceptance comes as second-yearstudent Megan Stalker reports the courses she and her colleagues have foughtto provide classmates are well attended. They even earn money.

At presstime, more than $70,000 had been raised from a student body thatalready pays tuition to the most expensive veterinary medical program inthe United States. About 140 students signed up for the seminars at $500each.

This proves students not only crave business education, they're willingto pay extra for it, says Dr. Jim Wilson, adjunct associate professor andadvisor.

"These students already are responsible for 52 hours of curriculum,"says Wilson, who guided Stalker and her classmates in the program's creation."The administration thought that the students, although they were eager,lacked the knowledge to put this together. I say, don't tell us the studentscan't become interested in business management, they can. I'm so proud ofthese guys."

Student response

As for the classes, Stalker says the program has been well received. The Business Management Certificate requires students to attend at least10 of 14 classes covering topics such as accounting and personal finance.That works out to roughly 40 hours of supplemental education, Stalker says.

"There's been a groundswell of support," Stalker says. "Fundamentally,students here believe that this is going to make them better veterinarians.You can be a good veterinarian, but you can't be a great veterinarian withoutbusiness. These courses are about self-improvement and improvement of theprofession."

Second-year student Jennifer Stevens views the work as an investmentin her future.

"I've sort of seen that veterinarians don't always have great businesssense," says Stevens, who plans on entering equine practice upon graduation."This program seemed like a good opportunity for me to get the toolsI need to have the type of life I want after I graduate. The cost is highright now, but the extra skills and knowledge will help me recover thosecosts early in my career."

Seminars spread

As the certificate program moves forward, the college has agreed to takeover its administration and bear the costs.

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine also is attemptingto take on the program. That's a testament to its success, and a risingneed for business education, Stalker says.

"You can't learn accounting in a three-hour seminar; that's notthe point," she says. "This is about developing good businesssense. It's realizing that marketing, accounting, personnel management arethings I should be thinking about and knowing what resources are out there.This program isn't going to teach you everything, but when these graduatesget out there, they should have some base knowledge to enable them to makebetter decisions about their future. That's the logic behind this."

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