Bauer Volunteers Steer High School Students through Game of Real Life

Published on August 15, 2008
UH Bauer staffers Frank Kelley, Anne Ness, Sara Brown and Dalia Pineda

UH Bauer staffers Frank Kelley, Anne Ness, Sara Brown and Dalia Pineda

Faculty, staff and students from the UH Bauer College of Business are extending the school’s reach with a continued presence in the Houston community, especially local high schools where students are weighing the decision to pursue higher education.

Most recently, a team of volunteers from Bauer College’s Undergraduate Business Programs office shared their insight with 300 students from high schools across the city through the Game of Real Life, a program sponsored by Skills for Living, a Houston-based nonprofit that provides financial education and mentoring to low-income families.

“We selected this program because it provides high school students with a very practical application of financial and life decisions,” said Frank Kelley, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Business Programs at UH Bauer College.

During the Game of Real Life event, held in late July, students began their fictitious workday as 19-year-old high school graduates. They had the opportunity to either further their education or go straight into the workforce, and to make decisions about having children, getting married and buying new homes.

The students were interviewed by participating companies before each company “hired” about 12 students. Then the students were “trained” by their company’s representatives before showing up for work early on a Monday morning. Those who did not show up to work on time were forced to find other employment.

This is the second year that Skills for Living has offered the crash course in real life to local teenagers. “Students benefit from meeting with professionals and understanding the rewards of pursing a career, rather than a job,” said Lorraine Decker, the co-founder of Skills for Living.

“Companies bring real-life job interviews, training and business simulation models to 15-year-old students who would normally not have an opportunity to engage managers of Houston’s best companies in communication and execution of core business strategies,” she added.

One employer available to the students was the University of Houston. Although students weren’t interviewing for real jobs, they had the chance to see what it would be like to run a Testing Center, where students who chose to attend college were tested on material from their previous year’s academic courses in math, English, and science, and a Financial Aid and Scholarship Office.

Throughout the day, students lost scholarships, earned scholarships, graduated from college and increased their earning potential and balances. Teams with the highest scores won the overall competition.

“It is all about giving back,” Kelley said. “Education can play a transforming role with our community, economically and socially. When a student graduates, it not only impacts that student, but the entire family. Bauer College is playing a leadership role on campus to serve the community in this way, not only through this particular project, but through the efforts of student organizations.”

Participating in events such as the Game of Real Life is a mutually beneficial venture for the community and Bauer College, Kelley said. “High school students are the future generation of Bauer students, so we have been working with several programs that have a proven track record in reaching high school students we want to come to UH and major in business at Bauer,” he added.

In addition to Kelley, volunteers from Bauer College included academic advisor Jonathan Hill, business operations assistant director Sara Brown, graduate and professional programs marketing director Anne Ness, financial aid advisor Dalia Pineda and recruitment director Tanieka Young. Donny Asbell, public relations officer for the college’s chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants, and Holly Luong (’94, MBA ‘04), a Skills for Living board member, also participated.

By Hannah Eastham

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the Bauer College of Business

The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.