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GEM Program Seeks to Help Undergraduate Diamonds in the Rough

September 29, 2009
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GEM Opening Event

  Linda L. Neider, vice dean of undergraduate business
  programs, and, Janice B. Gonzalez, president of
  Miami-Dade’s Women’s Chamber of Commerce
  and CEO of JBG Communications, join students at GEM's
  premier event.

The School’s top female undergraduates have the opportunity to take advantage of   a new business mentoring and networking program designed exclusively for women. Gateway to Excellence through Mentorship, or GEM was established this fall to connect female business students with successful businesswomen in the Miami-Dade area.

Interestingly, GEM was established via the same means that it promotes: networking.  The idea was hatched at an event where Janice B. Gonzalez, president of Miami-Dade’s Women’s Chamber of Commerce and CEO of JBG Communications, met with Barbara Kahn, dean of the School of Business Administration and Linda L. Neider, vice dean of undergraduate business programs over lunch a few months back.   Both deans were delighted that one of the school’s alums wanted to help mentor for some of the school’s most gifted students.

“GEM is the opportunity for students to gain access to professional women in the community who will guide them and assist them in developing and bridging the gap between being a student and a professional,” Gonzalez said.  “GEM is an interactive personal growth program that will challenge and test students’ abilities with the intended goal of improving networking and interpersonal skills.”

The first GEM program, called “First Impressions,” was held on September 11. It provided students with information on how to present themselves professionally and network appropriately in a business setting.

“The program was really successful,” said Ellen McPhillip, assistant dean for undergraduate business programs.  “Out of the 50 women who were invited to the program, 47 attended.”

GEM Opening Event

  Janice Gonzalez addresses students at "First
  Impressions" event.

The students who attended the first event have the opportunity to submit their resumes to be considered for admission into GEM.  Gonzalez says that while the number of students who attended the initial event may be narrowed down through this process, she is willing to keep all 47 women in the program if they are sufficiently qualified and more importantly, motivated to participate in the several  events  planned for them.

Students who are admitted will attend an evening with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on October 6, where they will be paired with their mentors.  Other upcoming GEM events include a Women’s Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, a resume building workshop, and several other networking lunches and opportunities.  Gonzalez says the program not only mentors young women, but also prepares them to be mentors themselves someday.

GEM aims to establish permanent mentor relationships that will be invaluable for students down the road, leading to an internship, a job opportunity or just a strong friendship.

“Approach every new contact with an open mind and an open heart,” said Gonzalez.  “You never know where each new relationship may lead.”

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