Torchlight | Fall 2015

Honors program offers head start in business

Pamela Ormaas Scholarship recipient Travis Volpe (center) is surrounded by other members of the upper-division, cohort-based Business Honors Program. 

 

When Anne Fuller heard that companies in the region were looking for more team skills and fewer “silos” in Sac State business grads, she went to the students themselves for a solution.

“During a focus group with business seniors, almost every student said they would’ve enjoyed team projects where everyone in the group was hardworking and contributed through an integrated approach,” says the associate professor of management.

That feedback led to the creation of the upper-division, cohort-based Business Honors Program in Fall 2012.

Since its inception, the program has attracted applicants with a wealth of leadership experience: former student body presidents, sports captains, students heading up nonprofit work during high school and community college—not to mention those with solid internship and work history.

But before they can be admitted, students must also undergo a rigorous selection process that includes suiting up and interviewing with a panel of faculty members.

     “It helped play a role in being selected
to participate in a global internship
program with KPMG. I got to spend four
of my 12-week summer internship in
Dublin, Ireland. Being able to reference
the award only helped validate my
dedication to my studies and potential
as a full-time employee for the firm."

           —Travis Volpe, Class of 2016

“The interview approach helps the program stand out and shows we as faculty are putting in time and effort on the front end,” Fuller says. “We have a lot of bright students at Sac State, but the ones in the honors program are looking for this extra challenge.”

The program also attracted the attention of donors Mary and Harry Coburn. They established the signature scholarship for the Business Honors Program—the Pamela Ormaas Scholarship—named in honor of their daughter Pamela Rae Ormaas ’82 (Accountancy) who died of cancer in 2011. The $10,000 award is given to a junior accounting student who is also in the honors program.

The 2014-15 Ormaas recipient, Travis Volpe, says the scholarship has helped him maintain a 4.0 GPA, secure an internship with “Big Four” accounting firm KPMG, serve on ASI’s Finance and Budget Committee and act as the professional relations liaison for the Accounting Society. And, perhaps more importantly, stay on track to graduate in four years with the 150 units required to become a CPA.

“I think more people should do this,” says Mary Coburn. “Putting a face with the money really drives these students to be successful in their educations.”

For Volpe, earning such a prestigious award has also served as a talking point during job interviews.

“It helped play a role in being selected to participate in a global internship program with KPMG,” he says. “I got to spend four of my 12-week summer internship in Dublin, Ireland. Being able to reference the award only helped validate my dedication to my studies and potential as a full-time employee for the firm.”

Volpe also credits the rigorous coursework in the Honors Program for helping him develop the confidence to tackle whatever his professors—or managers—throw at him.

“This experience has greatly helped me as an audit intern at KPMG, where I’m constantly being put on new tasks and clients,” he says. “Many of our assignments require us to utilize concepts learned from different business disciplines. When we complete each assignment, it’s as if the boundaries of what we thought possible have been pushed even further.”

Fuller suggests the Honors Program is also making an impact beyond the confines of the College, noting that for the last two years the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Graduate has gone to a member of the program.

“I think that says something about the contributions our students are making to the University,” she says. “It’s my hope that our honors students bring fresh insight into the College’s general education courses, which creates a bigger footprint that touches all students at Sac State.”

To learn more about the Business Honors Program and other programs in the College of Business Administration, contact John Power at (916) 278-2452.