New program provides opportunity for business students in Clarksdale, Mississippi


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A mural is displayed on the side of a building in Clarksville Mississippi where Gies College of Business started a program for students to conceptualize a business that would benefit this developing community.

By Olivia Vamos, Staff Writer

The Gies College of Business is creating a new program set for spring 2022 which allows students to conceptualize a business that would benefit a developing community. 

According to the groups’ website, the Mississippi Project is a spring break program for freshmen and sophomores in Business. The program trains students to devise business proposals that will be presented to business leaders of Clarksdale, Mississippi and the surrounding communities.

The program will run from March 12 to March 20 and will cost approximately $450 per student. 

David Hong, freshman in Business, said attending the trip would be a productive way of spending his break.

“I want to get a practical application of business because you’re actually working with real community members and real business leaders in the Clarksdale area and that kind of real-life experience I think will be very beneficial to me in the future,” Hong said.

Abby Carbajal, sophomore in Business, said she is excited about the trip and how she will get to meet new people since COVID-19 has limited her opportunities.

“This is a great opportunity to be able to travel and get to know different places,” Carbajal said. 

Kevin Jackson, associate dean of Undergraduate Affairs in Business and co-designer of the Mississippi Project, said that while Clarksdale is safe, it is in need of revitalization.

Jackson said the Mississippi Project gives students an introduction to “human-centered design” which is a new tool for innovation.

“Human-centered design focuses on designing with humans in mind,” Jackson said.

Alex See is the director of operations for the office of Undergraduate Affairs in Business and another co-designer of the Mississippi Project. 

See and Jackson are planning to have students collaborate with other students from the Clarksdale area.

“The main hope is that they’ll work with college-age students so they can problem-solve together because they need the community piece of it to understand the situation,” See said. “I would say an outcome of that is also that the students will engage, interact, learn from and work with students that might have a different background from them.”

There are also plans to participate in fireside chats where the students will listen to a business or community leader discuss their own stories and talk about the general business environment in Clarksdale. 

Jackson said they intend to have the students learn about different business models. 

“I think for many of the students who’ll be on this trip it will be something new for them to experience or to learn about companies that have objectives as part of the underlying fabric of their companies,” Jackson said.

Jackson and See mentioned plans to do a historical tour of the Clarksdale area while they are staying downtown.

See also said that the program is putting business in action. He is also proud of the opportunity for University students to engage with a diverse group of Clarksdale community members.

“The hope is that they will gain a better understanding of business and gain a better understanding of themselves and kind of how they think about the world and business,” See said.

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