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Business School Program Gives Students Valuable On-the-Job Experience

 

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 7, 2013 – Brownsville native Cynthia “Abby” Lozano, a freshman business major at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, carries a full class schedule and works 20 hours a week. Another responsibility that she takes as seriously as she does school and work is being a role model for her five younger siblings. 

Cynthia "Abby" Lozano and Albert GarciaA 2012 graduate of Brownsville Early College High School, Lozano is proud to be the first in her family to attend college. She is also one of 48 students participating in a new School of Business initiative funded by the Meadows Foundation. This work-study program partners incoming freshmen with a local employer to gain experience in the business field they are pursuing.

 

As one of the first in the program that got underway during the fall 2012 semester, Lozano was matched with Brownsville Public Utilities Board, where she started working on Oct. 1 in the purchasing department.  

“I am currently a buyer intern,” Lozano said. “In this position, I have had the opportunity to practice my public relation skills with internal customers and vendors. I have also come to acquire knowledge about the procurement process and the municipality’s state and local regulations that must be followed.”

 

Lozano’s supervisor, Diane Solitaire, PUB Materials/Warehouse Manager, said the work/study program helps students learn how to work as a team, become more self-confident, and it gives them the tools to be successful in the business world. 

“Cynthia came in and has tackled the tasks given to her without resistance,” Solitaire said. “She must contact vendors and the end users daily in order to process orders. Since BPUB is a government entity, there are also rules and regulations she must learn and follow. She accepts the challenges and strives to do the best job she can.”

 

Another BPUB student intern participating in the program, Albert Garcia, is employed in the key accounts department. 

A 2012 Porter High School graduate, Garcia said working at BPUB is a valuable experience for him, that he learns new skills daily; and having to juggle school and a job, he is developing good time management skills.

“My coworkers are friendly and helpful; they take the time to explain things to me,” Garcia said. “My supervisor, Ms. Lozano, is readily available to answer questions, and her leadership has created a comfortable work environment.”

Ana Lozano, Key Accounts Marketing Manager at BPUB, said students who participate in a program such as this gain the competitive advantage needed to succeed in today’s job market.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Albert,” Lozano said. “He is engaged, inquisitive and determined to take advantage of this opportunity and learn as much as he can. Participation in this program will give students such as Albert the competitive advantage needed to succeed in today’s job market; an experience such as this is often the missing piece of the puzzle for most recent college graduates when transitioning into the workforce.” 

Both Albert Garcia and Cynthia Lozano expressed their appreciation for being accepted into the program and are hopeful it will receive continued funding.

 

Dr. Mark Kroll, Dean of the School of Business, said the project is still in its pilot stage, yet all indications point to the Meadows Foundation continuing with the funding. 

“By connecting our students with the local business community, the project will ensure student retention, the building of soft skills for the workplace and opportunities that lead to employment,” Kroll said. “Simultaneously, it will provide employers with a flow of experienced, appropriately credentialed graduates who can enter entry-level professional positions.”

 

Maggie Vasquez is the program’s full-time academic and career coach, an integral and critical component of the program. She counsels the students to insure satisfactory academic progress, she works with employers in addressing school or work conflicts and she communicates with the students’ families in order to build support at home. 

“Ms. Vasquez is very supportive, as are my co-workers,” Lozano said. “They are always willing to help me out, give me advice and provide feedback on my work.”

The School of Business project carries out a portion of the continuum plan of the Partners for Postsecondary Success Initiative spearheaded by United Way of Southern Cameron County. UTB joined area partners to focus on six critical points identified by PPS to shepherd students toward high school and university graduation followed by gainful entrance into the workforce: preparation, connection, entry, progress, completion and employment.

 

“This project has invaluable potential for our students and local businesses,” said Kroll. “We are extremely pleased that businesses in our community are stepping up to participate in this effort.”

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