June 13, 2005

LOS ANGELES - The Riordan Programs, UCLA Anderson’s pioneering, career-based outreach model for first-generation college students, wrapped up its 19th year with its 2005 Commencement Ceremony on May 14.  Participants in The Riordan Programs include college bound 10th, 11th, and 12th grade high school students, known as the Riordan Scholars, and current college students and recent college graduates, known as the Riordan Fellows.  The Riordan Scholars Program focuses on helping its students learn about business and develop leadership skills, while the Riordan Fellows Program educates, prepares and motivates its participants to competitively apply and succeed in top MBA programs and careers in management.  The Riordan Programs staff includes Alex Lawrence, executive director; Lisa Woon, program coordinator; and Adrienne Martinez, program assistant.

This pre-collegiate and pre-MBA training program in business and management has enjoyed a successful year of competitions, guest lectures, community service projects and company visits during its eight monthly sessions.  Following are some of this year’s Riordan Programs events and activities:

  • The Riordan Scholars Annual Stock Market Analyst Competition
  • Project FUTURE (an academic/career day at Foshay Learning Center)
  • Corporate Site Visit Series (Five company visits to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Goldman Sachs & Co., the Los Angeles Opera Company, PacifiCare Health Systems and Toyota Motor Corporation)
  • The Riordan Scholars $100K Portfolio Challenge

Annual Stock Market Competition
The Riordan Scholars Annual Stock Market Analyst Competition is one of many activities participants prepare for and look forward to during the program.  The Scholars began planning for the competition from the start of the program, allowing them a span of five months for preparation.  Each of the 16 teams of five to six students was assigned a publicly traded Fortune 500 company to research within four particular industries:  automotive, entertainment, finance and healthcare.

Stock Market Leaders, who are oftentimes Riordan Programs alumni and UCLA Anderson alumni, educated the Scholars on stock analysis and business issues, offering guidance for the teams’ Research Analyst Presentations, which included a company overview, financial performance and recommendation.  During the initial round, teams delivered their presentations to various panels of judges within their particular industry.  One team from each industry was selected to compete in the final round, and from those four final teams, the PacifiCare team was declared the winner.

“The Analyst Competition was an opportunity for each of the Scholars to participate and work together as a cohesive unit to present their assessment of the competitive landscape and the financial performance of their company,” said Aaron Perlmutter, a Stock Market Competition judge and manager at Levine Leichtman Capital Partners.  “As a stock market teacher as well as a judge, it was rewarding for me to see the tremendous progress each of the teams had made throughout the course of the year, up to the point of the presentations.”

Riordan Programs Executive Director Alex Lawrence, a Riordan Fellows alum (’96) and UCLA Anderson MBA alum (’99), says that the format of the competition was changed this year to give the participants more hands-on activity with the research aspect of the competition.  Students were able to visit some of the companies they were researching, giving them an informative experience to tie in with their Internet research.  Some professionals even helped students with their presentations, which stepped up the level of the content.

“The winning team, PacifiCare, talked about a lot of issues that struck home with the adults, such as health care costs and benefits,” Lawrence said.  “And the judges were able to ask questions that went below the surface, really challenging the students to think, ‘Well, if I were the CEO of a company, what would I do?’”

The $100K Portfolio Challenge was another important project that the Scholars worked on.  Looking at the same companies used during the Stock Market Competition, the scholars were given $100,000 of fictitious money and had to determine how they would allocate that money.  At the end of the program, the teams’ portfolios were reviewed and the team with the highest portfolio value won.  Team "Z" won this year's competition.

Community Service Projects
An important aspect of the Riordan Fellows Program is the six community service projects organized by small teams of Fellows.  One of the projects was an event called Project FUTURE, an academic/career day held at Foshay Learning Center that offered information sessions and workshops regarding post-secondary educational and career opportunities for students.  Nearly 20 colleges and universities, as well as employers such as MWH Global, Citibank and Los Angeles World Airports, were on hand to discuss academic information and career opportunities. Roderick Mayo, Partner with Price Waterhouse Coopers LLC, and Sylvia Juarez, UC Berkeley Admissions Officer were among the many speakers and panelists who shared their insight on the challenges and opportunities that families from low socioeconomic households face when seeking higher education and professional careers.

While Project FUTURE was a project that some of the Fellows planned externally, other projects dealt with in-house programming planning.  One community service team dealt solely with the planning and organization of the Fellows final session on May 14, which involved putting together a volunteer schedule, planning activities and events that would take place in the afternoon, working with catering, planning the day’s schedule, and creating a program to distribute to guests.  The marketing team conducted focus groups with current and past Riordan Programs participants to garner information for a brochure that would help market the program to constituents ranging from prospective applicants to sponsors to other community partners.

The database management team created and maintained a new online alumni database and succeeded in updating contact information for more than 50 percent of The Riordan Programs’ 1500 alumni.  Another team served as consultants for the Programs’ 20th anniversary celebration and created a thorough report complete for immediate implementation next year.  The fundraising team, who spearheaded all fundraising efforts, helped fund the activities that each of the other teams worked on and raised money for the Riordan Fellows Legacy Scholarship Fund (so named because it was created by the Riordan Fellows in 2002).  The Scholarship benefits Riordan Scholars who are graduating seniors; they can receive from $500 to $1000 to help subsidize the costs that they will incur during their first year in college.

“A lot of our Fellows are looking to go to graduate school of some nature, typically business school, and the community service projects prepare them by giving them exposure to working in teams, different leadership styles, the process of planning events, and working with people from different backgrounds and work perspectives,” Lawrence said.  “It not only benefits our program but the Fellows as well, from a personal development standpoint.”

The Scholars Program is hoping to expand the number of participating students and high schools next year.  In order to remedy space issues and cater to student interests, curriculum will be divided into two tracks – finance and health care.  Program participants will receive their core curriculum based on one of the two industries, with some exposure to these topics already taking place this year.

Stephen Torres, a member of the Advisory Board and former mentor for The Riordan Programs, commented that the program “is one of the best vehicles for building a pipeline of qualified diverse applicants to business schools and other graduate programs.

“The Riordan Programs is designed as an equalizing tool for underrepresented students, bringing to them access to experiences, training and contacts enjoyed by mainstream well-to-do students competing for limited slots at graduate programs,” said Torres, president and general manager of alternative energy at Magnetek.  “The [participants] are exposed to a broad array of business experiences during a program year.  For those that choose to pursue a career in business, the program should serve as a foundation for their academic work in the following years.”

The Riordan Programs participants had the opportunity to learn about the health care industry during a special Health Care session in April that was designed to expose them to the current trends, challenges and opportunities affecting the health care and biotech industries.  Invited panelists, who shared their experiences in the fields and offered their advice on a variety of topics, included UCLA Anderson MBA candidates and Amgen senior management, including the following individuals:

Dr. Peter Ho, an MBA candidate at UCLA Anderson and former intern at Biogen Idec Inc.
Dr. Geoffrey Van Thiel, an MD/MBA candidate at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine/UCLA Anderson and former Healthnet employee
Bill Nash, senior manager in sales and marketing at Amgen
Mindy Han, associate manager in corporate finance at Amgen
Demet Yalcin, associate manager in research and development at Amgen

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from lecturer CK Lin, a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA’s Bioengineering department, who provided a lecture on his work in the field of nanotechnology.

Riordan Programs Program Assistant Adrienne Martinez, a participant of the Fellows Program in 2004, says that this past year was a tremendous success.  “We came into this year wanting to build the program back up, add some good structure, make the curriculum (lectures, roundtable discussions, industry speakers) more like course curriculum, while continuing to have the mentoring program and the community service projects,” she said. 

“The Scholars, who can participate up to three years in the program, have noticed the difference and have expressed their huge gratitude for the improvement to the program,” Martinez added.  “It’s a very complex and demanding program, but the benefits that the graduating participants are getting this year is very great.

About the Riordan Programs
Founded in 1987, The Riordan Programs is a pioneering career-based outreach program that motivates high school students, college students and recent college graduates from diverse backgrounds and under-served communities to consider and prepare for careers in management through education, mentorship and professional development. The Riordan Programs has since been recognized as the defining model for such programs.

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