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Freshmen Fellows program aims to enrich students

By Mark Miller
On October 4, 2010

As Freshmen Fellows enters its fifth year, the program's leaders are still working to ensure students get the most they can out of it.

Kristin LaRiviere, who's seeking a master's degree in higher education administration from Maryland, is also a graduate assistant for the Fellows family of programs in the Smith School of Business.

"It's sort of a collaboration between the faculty who teach [the courses] and the Fellows staff," LaRiviere said.

In her capacity as a graduate assistant, LaRiviere helps Associate Dean Dr. Patricia Cleveland manage Freshmen Fellows and related programs. She called the program "an innovative way to … start getting freshmen acclimated to not only the Smith School, but to the university as a whole."

Freshmen Fellows is open to freshmen directly admitted to the Smith School of Business. It is a two-year program that seeks to immerse students in a unique community, similar to the Gemstone and Honors Humanities programs.

Students get "an understanding how broad, how deep, how complex the business world is" by participating in the four semesters of Freshmen Fellows, said LaRiviere, who has been a graduate assistant for Fellows since July 2009.

"We've done everything from bringing speakers in … [to] site visits," LaRiviere said.

Among the speakers slated for this semester is Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass, who is scheduled to address Freshmen Fellows students Nov. 30.

Students also visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore last Friday to learn about its business model as a community landmark, tourist destination and artificial animal habitat. They are set to "learn more about the business of entertainment" at D.C.'s Verizon Center on Dec. 5, according to the program website.

LaRiviere said she hopes students come away with a "big-picture" view of the business world, having a better idea of what it takes to succeed in business beyond doing the next homework assignment.

"They can be the next big speakers at events 20, 30 years from now," LaRiviere said.

"They can, as college students, make a difference."

Although 264 students were admitted to Freshmen Fellows this year, a drop from previous years, Cleveland said she did not think the percentage of students admitted from the Class of 2014 was substantially lower from previous years.

"It's not the program suffering," Cleveland said of the slightly lower enrollment number – 34 fewer students than the 298 admitted to the program for the Fall 2009 semester.

Freshmen Fellows is one of 21 Fellows programs the Smith School of Business offers, and one of 12 of those programs that is open to all BMGT majors, according to the Undergraduate Network Web site.

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