MPREP Scholars program continues to enhance student success

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Does a person have to look a certain way to have a successful career in business? Is there a specific path one must follow?

Graduates of the PwC Multicultural Professional Readiness Education Program (MPREP) would say the answer to both questions is a resounding no. MPREP is a groundbreaking collaboration between PricewaterhouseCoopers and Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business. The learning community was designed to encourage, support, develop and retain multicultural undergraduate business students with a special emphasis on accounting and finance majors.

Lynita Taylor, diversity and inclusion manager for MPREP Scholars, knows that successful careers can have their roots in all kinds of backgrounds and that there are many tools within the Ilitch School to guide those on their way.

“We had a student who came into the program looking to go into investment banking believing he needed an Ivy League degree and stacked experience,” said Taylor, who directs MPREP along with University Counselor Lauren Scott. “What he actually needed was support and a place to talk about social pressures.” The student graduated and secured a full-time position without having to follow a rigid path.

With access to professional mentorship, holistic academic support, workshops, internships and tutoring, the learning community is a key program in the Ilitch School’s mission to boost diversity, equity and inclusion both on campus and in the wider business world.

In 2021, MPREP had its most successful year to date. With a program size of 58 students, its membership has steadily increased since its creation three years ago.

The program boasts a placement rate of more than 75% in a professional capacity and many MPREP Scholars receive multiple job offers upon graduation.

Direct support from corporate mentors

As MPREP’s student membership has steadily increased, so has its access to new and exciting corporate mentors and speakers. The program has welcomed new companies, industries and professional identities.

“This year, while the majority of our networking happened online, we were able to expand our reach and align better with all six majors—not just accounting and finance,” said Taylor. “Last year, we welcomed Frank Tramble, vice president and chief communications officer of Howard University. He is a native of Detroit, and he gave insights into a not-straight and narrow career path.”

MPREP Scholars also spoke with Kalaya Long, owner of the first Black female-owned construction company, as well as multiple financial advisors and entrepreneurs.

Holistic academic support

One of the many reasons MPREP was awarded WSU’s 2020 Learning Community of the Year is the program’s holistic approach to a student’s wellbeing. In addition to one-on-one check-ins every month, Taylor created more space for scholars to talk through racial and social injustice issues after a year that weighed heavily on students of color.

“We have offered town halls with various target audiences,” said Taylor. “Some are open to students as well as mentors, and some are limited to only students. It can be a mix of who is joining at the table, but we give them a space to speak individually. We provide support and understanding to individuals as they navigate their own circumstances.”

Meaningful community engagement

In 2021, MPREP organizers planned opportunities for Scholars to safely engage with mentors on social and service outings.

“We put together outdoor activities, such as walks or bike rides, for our students and mentors to get together,” said Taylor. “In addition to that, we’re planning for our first service outing supporting Focus: HOPE. We’ll be packing food boxes for the elderly, adhering to social distancing and taking CDC guidelines seriously.”

Unique access to networking events

The Ilitch School’s proximity to Detroit’s business district makes it easy for companies like Accenture, LinkedIn, PwC and Stellantis to partner with MPREP for the mutual benefit of growing a better workforce.

“We give students premature exposure to local employment opportunities so that they can have an understanding of what may lie beyond their college experience,” Taylor said.

The majority of our MPREP Scholars are of African American/Black and Latino/a/x descent, but the learning community is open to all. To learn more about getting involved, please contact Lynita Taylor or Lauren Scott.

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