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SXU's Graham School of Management Offers Introduction to Business Course to Local High School Students


The Saint Xavier University (SXU) Graham School of Management (GSM) has recently started offering an Introduction to Business course to local high school students, affording them one college credit hour. This unique and innovative offering is the first of its kind in the area, and an incredible benefit for college and career preparation for high school students. 

Professor and founding dean of GSM Faisal Rahman, Ph.D., conceived the idea for the program in 2018. Around that time, GSM was re-accredited into the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) , which is one of the highest forms of accreditation any business school can obtain and is internationally accepted. Rahman's goal was to think outside the box for recruitment and develop relationships with communities and high schools.

Classes are held once per week for 50 minutes, and students learn a basic overview of the business world, including topics such as principles and practices of business, globalization, entrepreneurship, marketing practices, management and employee motivation practices. They are also exposed to how ethics and social responsibility relate and are introduced to various types of business ownerships.

 GSM professor Suzanne Cromlish, Ph.D., developed the rigorous curriculum and promoted it by visiting high schools during lunch hours and attending and presenting at open houses. Cromlish, who has over 25 years of experience in executive corporate-level management and administration, has a distinguished record of achievements and comprehensive expertise, which she used to cultivate the enriching program. The program started as one course offered at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School but quickly blossomed into courses taught at six different area high schools with 120 enrolled students. "No one ever dreamed it would be like this. It surpassed our wildest expectations," Cromlish said. With the help of director of GSM Undergraduate Programs Nicholas Mancari and alumni Dr. Laura Shallow '03, who both teach the courses, the program continues to flourish.

The goal of the program is for students to develop basic functional business knowledge, critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills, and effective interpersonal, teamwork and leadership skills. Students learn about a variety of businesses and corporations and develop marketable skills that will help them in college, career and beyond.

Students also get an opportunity to stretch their imaginations with projects that foster engagement and career exploration, including interviewing individuals in various management positions and designing a "Shark Tank" project where they create a product or service to pitch as a presentation to the class.

"We see these students who have never experienced or learned any of these things sitting there with their eyes wide open, feeling like this is fun," Cromlish said. "It is more than just regurgitating material from the textbooks and classroom. Some of the ideas they come up with for their Shark Tanks are really patentable. It is so exciting to see them grow and learn, and it is so rewarding." 

The program is currently looking to expand to more high schools. Cromlish believes that the course fills a void. While many high schools offer engineering, economics and finance, they don't offer a general business course. "To my knowledge, no other high school has placed a course of this nature into their curriculum," Cromlish said. "It's an exciting and unique opportunity that really gives us the chance to live our SXU mission by enriching students' lives and giving them a new perspective of what they can accomplish, which is an invaluable thing."