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It’s not everyone’s idea of how to spend summer vacation, but the 20 high school students taking part in the Merrill Lynch Young Business Leaders Summer Institute at Baruch College have gladly renounced the beach and the basketball court to immerse themselves in microeconomics and public administration. Stuyvesant High School sophomores and juniors are getting a taste of college early. They’ve enrolled in two 3-credit courses that extend over a six-week period and keep them in the classroom Mondays through Thursdays, from 9:30 am to 4 pm. Not to mention the hefty homework assignments.

Participants in Baruch's College Now program.
Participants in the Merrill Lynch Young Business Leaders Summer Institute at Baruch College. From left to right: Kelly, Elisa, Andrew, Galia, and Yume.

Even though these are some of the brightest kids in New York, they describe the work as “hard.” According to Andrew Andrzejewski, who is 16 and lives in Queens, “on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 9.5—it puts college courses in perspective.” “It’s an entire semester of college compressed into 18 class meetings,” explains Elisa Lau, a 17-year-old from Brooklyn. Elisa says she signed up for the program “to find out if I really want to apply to a business-oriented school."

The Baruch College Admissions Office hopes the answer turns out to be “yes.” The College wants more academically gifted students like Elisa. Merrill Lynch, which is supporting the program, a part of CUNY’s “College Now” initiative, wants them too. The future of the financial services industry depends in part on recruiting talented and energetic young people. Merrill Lynch’s support for this program is part of an ongoing relationship between the College and the financial services firm.

A couple of years ago, Merrill Lynch was one of the sponsors of Baruch’s Financial Services Center, which includes a state-of-the-art trading floor. At Stuyvesant, Merrill Lynch executives from the Global Markets and Investment Banking Group share their experiences with students in a “Wall Street” course, which is funded by Merrill Lynch. Through the course, and the Merrill Lynch guest speakers, students get a firsthand feel for everything from securities valuation methodology, hedging techniques and the role of the U.S. Federal Reserve to the day-to-day functions of an investment bank and the role of ethics in the professional world.

“These kinds of partnerships are amazingly effective in connecting classroom learning with hands-on business experience,” says Eddy Bayardelle, Merrill Lynch’s First V.P. for Global Philanthropy. “Our goal is to bring the financial services world alive for the Stuyvesant students and to spark what we hope will be a lifelong interest in finance and investing.”

On this particular day, the class is listening attentively to City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, a guest speaker in the “Public Administration” course. The councilwoman has come to talk about her work as chairperson of the Education Committee. She is discussing the recent reorganization of the Board of Education into the Department of Education under Chancellor Joel Klein. She sees progress being made, but evidently there are still surreal aspects to the public schools of New York. For one thing, there are schools where neither the Internet nor the air-conditioning system can be turned on, though all the needed wiring is in place. “Don’t ask why,” Moskowitz advises, “just fix it. You can get lost in the ‘why.’”

The students are impressed with the rigor of “Public Administration.” A mixture of law and government, it includes case studies of actual Supreme Court decisions. Even a student like Galia Sandy, long committed to the study of medicine, is happy with the program. Like all the “College Now” students on campus this summer, Galia is free to avail herself of all the Baruch College facilities, including the award-winning William and Anita Newman Library and the dazzling new Athletics and Recreation Complex. “Baruch exceeded all my expectations,” says Elisa Lau.

The Stuyvesant program is one of several being held at Baruch under the auspices of CUNY’s College Now, initiative. A total of 125 students are participating, taking courses in English, mathematics and journalism as well as public administration and microeconomics.


For press information, contact:
Zane Berzins,
News Manager

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