District 214 Pathway helps students get down to business
District 214 Pathway, DECA club help students find their calling in business
For Deirdra Day and Renee Portenlanger, participating in District 214's Business Management and Administration Career Pathway is adding up to a promising future as the two pursue careers in business.
For Day, a 2017 Buffalo Grove High School graduate now at the University of Illinois, it was a high school business class and field trip that solidified her love of business.
"As part of the accounting curriculum, our class took a trip down to (financial services firm) Grant Thornton in Chicago and were able to hear firsthand experiences from workers in audit, tax and advisory, which solidified my decision to do advisory work," Day said.
Portenlanger, a John Hersey High School senior, discovered her passion through the business club DECA, which led her to the business management pathway.
"My sophomore year I started doing DECA, and it allowed me to discover a passion for business and motivated me to take business classes later on in my high school career," Portenlanger said.
"DECA especially helped me express my creativity and be professional while speaking, which carried over into my entrepreneurship class, in which we have to pitch in front of potential investors."
The business management pathway is designed to help students decide if a business career is right for them. The coursework helps them prepare for careers as accountants, financial advisers and analysts, human resource specialists and market research analysts, among others.
Students are also able to build startups through the district's entrepreneurship program, which engages students in all aspects of building a business, from identifying and solving a problem to creating a business model and testing their product.
Each District 214 school sends a team of students to the district's Startup Showcase competition to pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of judges.
SnapClips, a weight collar invented in a Wheeling entrepreneurship class, recently appeared on ABC's Shark Tank, and Skunk Aid, a deskunking kit for dogs invented by Buffalo Grove entrepreneurship students, was featured on NBC's "Today" show.
As part of the pathway, District 214 partners with National Louis University to offer dual-credit courses, which allows students to earn college credits toward their business degree while still in high school. Through the District 214-National Louis 1+3 program, students have the opportunity to earn a free year of college while in high school and then finish their bachelor's degree in business management in three years.
In addition to giving students a head start on deciding on their goals, Pauline DeGrazia, director of undergraduate programming at National Louis, said she believes there is a huge cost benefit of this partnership for students.
"I feel that the partnership between NLU and D214 is unique because it offers a significant savings to students at a time when college costs are skyrocketing," said DeGrazia.
"NLU has faced this challenge within higher education by reducing our tuition to $10,710 per year, with the goal of helping students to graduate from NLU with little to no debt. Students who participate in dual-credit can save even more."
For students such as Day, who choose to attend college elsewhere, the credits can still count toward their degree. Taking accounting helped Day because the University of Illinois accepted the accounting course she took in high school.
"In addition to this, my performance in dual-credit classes allowed me to transfer into college with a 4.0 GPA, which raises my cumulative GPA, which is something that is very helpful," she said.
About this series and how you can helpThis story is part of a 16-week series looking at Northwest Suburban High School District 214's Career Pathways program.
To join District 214's Career Pathways effort as an internship host, career mentor or classroom speaker, contact Barb Kain in the Teaching and Learning Department, firstname.lastname@example.org. To support the program financially through a sponsorship, early career credentials or college credits for students, naming or other contribution, contact Erin Brooks with the District 214 Education Foundation, email@example.com.