Local high school students from BUILD, a program aimed to support students’ small businesses and aid in college applications, promoted products including cake, stickers and lollipops on Tuesday, Oct. 19 in the Student Union.
The event was hosted by the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Path to Achieve Academic Excellence, a program which encourages high school students to pursue college educations, and Phi Alpha Delta, a fraternal fellowship focused on pre-law.
BUILD is a four-year program hosted at high schools, that teaches students business skills while focusing on maintaining a minimum 2.0 GPA sophomore year and 2.7 GPA junior year. A mentor leads the students in an entrepreneurial project, where they learn to create, market and sell specific products. Three groups had the chance to present their products at the Mills College Student Union. In addition to selling their products, the adolescents had a chance to improve their public speaking skills.
Terrylinn Cantlon, vice president of Path to Achieve Academic Excellence, said she hoped the event would increase the students’ self-confidence though public speaking.
“They got to see that people care about them,” Cantlon said. “I really believe that Mills students should be more involved in the community.”
The opportunity allowed the students to practice their public speaking skills. Three groups were randomly selected to present their small businesses. The students had been working on their projects since their freshmen years.
“At first it’s nerve-racking to speak,” said Alma Infante, 16, from California College Preparatory Academy. “Once you get through the first few words, though, you feel like you know everybody.”
The Mills visit also helped the students learn how to present themselves professionally. The students were expected to arrive early and formally dressed.
“Our professional attire shows we’re a team,” Infante said.
The male and female college-bound hopefuls sat in the audience and observed each others’ presentations along with their mentors. The groups comprise of at least three members, with teams coming from various high schools.
Many of the students had developed close bonds with their adult group leaders over their high school careers. Outside of the program, the mentors work various jobs.
Brandon Mullins, a Chevron employee, has met with the same group every Monday for one hour for the past three years.
“It’s definitely great to see them gain more confidence,” Mullins said. “Each time you see them speak, they gain confidence.”
Mullins said his team had become essentially self-motivated throughout the past couple years.
“I really don’t have to do too much,” Mullins said. “I’m really just there to enjoy the experience with them.”
This wasn’t the first time Mills students had experienced BUILD, however. Eva Reyes, a pre-nursing student at Mills, went through the BUILD program herself. Her younger sister Elizabeth Reyes is now in BUILD and was a part of one of the three presenting groups on October 19.
“It’s been a good experience because I’ve done it before so I can kind of be her mentor,” Eva said. “BUILD helped me more than my school with scholarships and filling out Free Application For Student Aid apps and helping me with college fee waivers.”
In addition to the BUILD students’ presentations, Cantlon said she hoped to organize a scholarship fair at Mills so BUILD students can see available financial aid. In addition, NSCS is planning its March to College Day on March 27, where high school students will tour Mills to get a taste of college life.
Above all else, though, Cantlon said she wants to show support for local high school students. Cantlon said this mission holds a personal sentiment.
“I never would have been here at Mills if someone didn’t believe in me,” Cantlon said.