Pamplin's Inspiring Possibilities Academy inaugural cohort and faculty/staff leaders. Photo by A’me Dalton for Virginia Tech.

Beginning Thursday, July 6, the Pamplin College of Business Office for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) will host a group of 27 high school students for the second annual Pamplin’s Inspiring Possibilities (PIP) Academy. The academy will kick off with a dinner featuring keynote speaker and guest of honor Randy Lucas ’91, M.S. ’92.

Lucas is a Charlotte, N.C., tax consulting and financial advisory firm specializing in tax incentives for energy-efficient construction and renewable and/or alternative energy technologies. He has served as a member of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, Pamplin Advisory Council (DEIB Task Force), Department of Accounting Advisory Board, Black Cultural Center Advisory Board, and the Pylon Society.

The PIP Academy is a 10-day residential program designed to introduce high school students from diverse backgrounds to the dynamic world of business and business careers. Students selected to participate in the academy will explore the seven academic disciplines within Pamplin College of Business: accounting and information systems, business information technology, finance, hospitality and tourism management, management, marketing, and real estate.

“The purpose of the PIP Academy is to enhance access and create pathways for diverse high school students to gain hands-on knowledge and experience into the many possibilities the business world has to offer,” said Janice Branch Hall, associate dean for Pamplin College of Business DEIB. “This program also aims to prepare students for life and success as college students.”

During the academy, students will be immersed in the Virginia Tech campus experience. Participants will engage with Pamplin faculty, alumni, and corporate partners, and interact with current Pamplin students. They will tour campus facilities and attend special sessions in professional development, admissions, financial aid, study abroad, wellness, and more. 

After the academy, the students will participate in the presentation of a team project, giving students a hands-on experience to apply business concepts in an immersive, real-world environment, ending with a presentation on the final day of the academy.

According to Hall, this program is about shaping the future of business. 

“We are living in a pluralistic world, one that requires a diverse workforce to enhance innovation and tackle complex business matters,” Hall added. “This program serves to cultivate and inspire the next generation of diverse leaders to challenge the status quo and bring forth solutions that will address the business and societal needs of the 21st century.”

The second-year class of the PIP Academy is made up of 27 rising high school seniors, many of whom come from underrepresented and underserved communities. All students have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 out of 4.0 (or its equivalent grading scale), and all submitted a statement of interest to participate. Students in the academy have all costs of attendance covered, including room and board.

“The success of the 2023 PIP academy will be indicated if the participants' interest, curiosity, and understanding of business, business careers, and college as a whole increase as a result of their academy experience,” said Hall. Another long-term measure of success will be the achievement of some form of post-secondary education. With 92 percent of 2022 PIP Academy participants applying to Virginia Tech – 86 percent of whom applied to the Pamplin College of Business – the program has proven its success. 

“Last year’s inaugural PIP Academy exceeded all of my expectations,” said Hall. “The future of our PIP Academy is bright, for we have created a solid pathway to educate and inspire future business leaders. We hope to continue the success for future generations of PIP Academy students, to inspire students to be excellent in whatever fields they are destined for, and to make lasting contributions that positively impact their communities.”

Written by A’me Dalton