A new Business Mentor Program launched by Catawba College's Ketner School of Business will pair junior and senior business majors with successful business leaders who are members of the Business Advisory Board, alumni or friends of the college. The program will provide an essential link between the classroom and business reality, according to Professor Pam Thompson, chair of the Ketner School of Business.
"I believe the program is a perfect addition to the Ketner School of Business and believe it will be a great way of meeting new contacts before entering the business world," junior Chris Beal of Goldston said.
Senior Derek Freeze of China Grove sees great potential in the new program. "As a student, I see the Business Mentor Program as a great opportunity," he explained. "I believe this experience has more to offer than just novelty. It will provide me with personal insight into the mind of an established business leader as well as the opportunity to network and associate myself with other business people in the area.
"Through this program, Catawba College is showing it is committed to preparing its students for success both now and after they graduate," Freeze continued. "I feel honored to be a part of this exciting new program that should benefit Catawba business students for years to come."
At an early December "Meet and Greet" luncheon held at the Cloninger Guest House on campus, the program's inaugural group of mentors and mentees were introduced. The four mentors are all members of the Ketner School of Business' Business Advisory Board. They include mentor Cobey Abramoski of Rockwell Farms with mentees senior Tiffany Andrassy of Raleigh, senior Sara Crane of Keystone Heights, Fla., and junior Samantha Ritchie of Mt. Pleasant; mentor Ralph Ketner, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Food Lion, Inc., with mentees Derek Freeze and senior Blake Ketner of Davidson; mentor Joey Popp, marketing and media resources/Joey Popp Productions and television host of Healthwise with mentee, senior Isaac Rose of Jonesville; and mentor Ted Goins, president and CEO of Lutheran Services for the Aging, with mentees, senior Kyle Overacker of Albany, N.Y., Chris Beal and junior Matthew Sossamon of Henderson. These students are the first to be paired with mentors. Their experiences, and those of their mentors, will provide valuable feedback on this new program which will become a requirement effective spring semester for all business majors. It will be a component of Strategic Management (MGT 3990), a course all business majors take, taught by Dr. Stephen Hiatt. Mentees will be matched with their mentors based on their area of professional interest – accounting, information systems, marketing, management, economics or entrepreneurship. Dr. Hiatt said he feels the mentoring experience will ensure that the class takes on a real world perspective.
Students and their mentors will meet several times during the upcoming semester to talk, ask questions and share advice. Other activities that most will engage in include tours of the mentor business; job shadowing; mentors attending class with their mentees; a mock interview and resume review; and attending a civic organization's meeting. At the conclusion of the semester, a closing breakfast or luncheon will be held at which mentors and mentees will share experiences and complete program evaluations.
Mentor Joey Popp was enthusiastic about his involvement in the new program. "I'm thrilled and honored to spend quality time with promising students and tomorrow's business leaders such as Isaac. I encourage others to participate in the program," he said. "My wife Catherine and I have already had dinner, attended (Catawba's) 'Lessons and Carols' with Isaac and discussed his business future. We look forward to other meetings."
After only an initial meeting, mentor Ted Goins was equally enthusiastic about the program and the mutual collaboration it entailed. "It was an honor to be asked to participate in the mentor program. Much is expected from those to whom much is given, so I feel a deep obligation to share the little I know. Plus, I expect to get more from these young men. They have different skills and abilities, so I hope to learn from them. We are already discussing technology and social networking.
Ralph Ketner is participating in the program," Goins continued. "In our inaugural meeting, I mentioned that Mr. Ketner is as relevant today and on top of his game as he was the day he retired. He is a role model for the rest of us. The current state of the economy will require each of us to step up our education and improvement efforts."
"It is an honor to be included in the mentor program here at Catawba College and I am looking forward to spending time with both Blake and Derek," said Ralph Ketner. "As chairman emeritus and co-founder of Food Lion, Inc., I may have learned a thing or two about business over the years and, if so, I am happy to share whatever knowledge I may possess with these fine young men."
In addition to Chris Beal and Derek Freeze, other students, like their mentors, also came into the program with high expectations and enthusiasm. Mentee Matthew Sossamon said "I didn't know what to expect at first, but meeting the mentors and getting to know them on a personal and professional level was great. The next day after the mentor luncheon, I met with my mentor at a Catawba event and we have already discussed plans for me to job shadow and also attend Rotary meetings. This is a huge opportunity for the business students!"