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Grant allows SMC accountants to travel

Megan O'Neil | Friday, February 25, 2005

The Saint Mary’s business department, with the financial backing of the College’s Lilly grant funds, took 30 sophomores interested in business careers on an overnight trip to Indianapolis. The group left Tuesday morning and will return this afternoon.

The annual trip, which has been taken place for 20 years, has traditionally been to visit firms and companies in downtown Chicago. In the past, students had to pay their own way, which occasionally made it difficult for some individuals to attend, professor Claude Renshaw said.

However, in December 2003, the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis named Saint Mary’s one of 37 Indiana colleges and universities to receive $38.9 million from a program called “An Initiative to Promote Opportunity through Educational Collaboration” which aims to keep college graduates in the state.

The grant has provided funding for Saint Mary’s faculty and students for various academic and career-oriented projects and trips within the state, such as this week’s trip to Indianapolis.

“We tried to come up with different ideas [for grant use] and one of them was this annual trip to Chicago,” Renshaw said.

In the fall, Renshaw created and submitted a proposal for the trip to Indianapolis to the committee that oversees the grant money. He was given $2,500 to pay for a chartered bus and hotel rooms, making the trip virtually free for him and his students. Each participant is paying just $10 out of pocket.

While in Indianapolis, the group will visit several notable companies and potential future employers such as Union Federal Bank and Deloitte & Touche.

“We have a contact at each place, and primarily they are through Saint Mary’s graduates,” Renshaw said. “That is the neat thing about all this, is that it is a Saint Mary’s network.”

The alumnae club of Indianapolis held a reception for the students Tuesday evening.

Renshaw said he is uncertain whether Indianapolis will become the permanent destination for the trip.

“I think we can do it next year if we want to and then we can evaluate it … and maybe we will be pleasantly surprised,” he said.

Participant Erica Valdez said she is looking forward to seeing Indianapolis and visiting several accounting firms.

“I think it is a better experience [than Chicago] because … we will be able to be there for two days instead of one,” she said.

Jessica Adach also said the switch from Chicago should have its benefits.

“It is kind of interesting to go to Indianapolis instead of Chicago because I have been to Chicago a lot so it will be a different perspective,” said Adach.

While Adach, a Florida native, admitted she is unlikely to remain in Indiana after she obtains her degree, she expects the trip to help introduce students to a side of the state many have never seen – its economic potential. She is also looking forward to meeting Saint Mary’s graduates at work in the real world while not having to worry about spending a lot of money.

“It should be good meeting with alumnae,” she said. “I know that it will be nice to make some connections … We don’t meet too many alums around campus.”