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May 02, 2011

Diverse Scholars Boost Bottom Line

If you could start a program that would attract top, diverse talent to Carolina, improve the bottom line for businesses, and boost career opportunities for students, you’d do it, right? Wachovia/Wells Fargo and the Darla Moore School of Business had those positive outcomes in mind when they created the Wachovia Scholars Program. Five years later the original Wachovia investment continues to produce dividends.

The program brings high-achieving, underrepresented high school juniors to USC’s campus for one week each summer to discover opportunities available in business. In addition to attending business school classes, the students develop a business plan for a company and experience campus life.

The Wachovia Scholars Program boosted Casey Diké’s self confidence and made the Moore School of Business her top choice for college: she chose USC over 11 other business schools, including Davidson, Duke, and Emory.

“I’m from Columbia, and I guess I took USC for granted,” Diké said. “This program shed a great light on USC—it planted a seed. I explored it more and decided that for business, the Moore School was better than any other school on my list. I saw that USC was No. 1 in international business and had a great finance area.

Learn more about the Wachovia Scholars Summer Program, sponsored by Wachovia bank and hosted by the Moore School of Business at University of South Carolina.

“Initially I questioned whether I was prepared enough for college, but being around all of these other excellent minority students showed me that I was just as good as anyone else about to enter college.” Now a senior, she will graduate early with her Moore School business degree in December. Wachovia Scholars Program graduates who attend USC as business majors are eligible to apply for four-year Wachovia Scholars scholarships. So far, 25 scholarships to Moore School students have been awarded.

A Moore School junior and graduate of the Wachovia Scholars Program, Douglas Brown said “the work that week with people from all walks of life was intense. We were encouraged to do things we’d never done before, and to exceed our own expectations.”

Creating more diversity in business helps students, communities, and the bottom line, said Brown, who is now a mentor for Wachovia Scholars Program students. Holt Chetwood, president of Wachovia/Wells Fargo in the Midlands market, agrees: “We believe we’re more effective at serving our customers and communities if our team members reflect the diversity of our communities,” Chetwood said. “We hope the Wachovia Scholars Program graduates will choose to continue their education with a focus on a business major.”

—Gary Snyder