August 9, 2023

High Schoolers Earn Entrepreneurial Stripes in SELF Summer Session

It’s never too early to start reaping the benefits of the Maryland Smith experience. Look at how these driven high school students spent part of their summer break.

In July, 43 high school students convened for the ninth-annual Snider Enterprise and Leadership Fellows (SELF) Experience at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Over a 3-week period, students participated in the 3-credit pre-college undergraduate course—BMGT198C “Enterprise, Leadership and Markets”—offered in partnership with Terp Young Scholars at Van Munching Hall or online through UMD’s web-based learning management system.

Working in teams, students collaborated with Maryland Smith’s renowned faculty and visiting business executives to develop enterprise and leadership skills and apply lessons in marketing, strategy, market-based economics and personal finance to real-world problems in a venture pitch presentation at the program’s end.

Among the projects showcased was a redesign of the industry standard cereal box as a biodegradable version with a screw-on cap to preserve freshness and an AI-driven app optimizing shift workers' schedules, saving businesses time and money with an employee-centric approach.

The SELF program is an inspiring and unique residential summer program that accepts applications from innovative and motivated high school students. The course empowers students to become the CEO of ME (My Enterprise), Inc., while exploring the power of individual creativity and free markets to deliver solutions to problems in the world that they are passionate about solving. The student “fellows” are introduced to a life philosophy rooted in self-reliance and self-discovery while learning how to develop a personal leadership plan.

Apex Strategies founder and CEO Chris Ballenger, who served as a judge for the online cohort’s final presentations, was impressed with the students' outstanding work and commitment displayed within the short period.

"The unique and creative pitches produced by the students in the SELF program in just three short weeks demonstrated professional competencies I see in more experienced presentations," says Ballenger.

Since its creation in 2015, over 300 high school students have participated in SELF. Due to increased demand, this summer’s expansion to two cohorts brought 26 students to Van Munching Hall for the in-person session and 17 students from California, New York and New Jersey, and students from throughout Maryland for the synchronous online session.

In addition to receiving invaluable instruction, these students gained a unique opportunity to connect with current Maryland Smith undergraduate students and glean insights into the UMD experience, says Christine Schaaf, faculty director of the Smith Business Leadership Fellows Program and instructor for the online cohort.

“The online students had the opportunity to work one-on-one and in groups with undergraduate student mentors, all Smith Business Leadership Fellows members,” says Schaaf. “This experience promoted collaboration in the online setting and enabled students to develop relationships with current college students who provided insight into the college experience.”

The program’s innovative curriculum, rooted in self-discovery with its ‘CEO of ME (My Enterprise), Inc.’ and entrepreneurial concepts, is representative of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets’ contributions toward Maryland Smith’s strategic priorities of re-imagining learning and investing in people and communities, says Jacqueline Manger, managing director of the Snider Center. It will also continue to hold a significant role in Maryland Smith engaging with students earlier in their academic careers.

“We view SELF as an important pipeline for attracting enterprising students to the Smith School and that our efforts to scale the program will help enhance outcomes for the Office of Undergraduate Programs,” says Manger.

High school students interested in enrolling in the SELF program must complete an application to Terp Young Scholars and receive admission. Applications for summer 2024 will open in mid-January and close on May 1, 2024. Further information can be found online at the University of Maryland Office of Extended Studies in early 2024.

Media Contact

Greg Muraski
Media Relations Manager
301-892-0973 Mobile 

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

Back to Top