June 12, 2024

Nourishing the Minds of Future Business Leaders

Smith Business Leadership Fellows: Exploring big-picture questions and building meaningful connections.

Smith Business Leadership Fellows (SBLF), a flagship program for top freshmen and sophomores, just wrapped up its second year. SBLF faculty co-director Rajshree Agarwal says, “It is a true honor to work with these exceptional students.”

Introduced in 2022 along with the University of Maryland Interdisciplinary Business Honors program, SBLF gives fellows the opportunity to explore big-picture questions related to the future of themselves, business and society during their freshman and sophomore years. “The students interact with thought leaders – faculty who do cutting-edge research, business leaders and entrepreneurs,” says Agarwal.

Keola Evans ’26, who is majoring in international business and marketing, says she enjoys meeting these esteemed professionals. “It not only allows me to hear from successful business people, but also to see the progression of their careers.”

Smith Business Leadership Fellows undertake deep introspection to discover their why, even as they look externally at organizations for whom they may eventually work.

“We want students to think about what’s important to them and find an organization that has those same values, so they can help solve problems that are not just meaningful to them, but also to that business,” says Christine Schaaf SBLF faculty co-director.

Marketing major Therman Hawkins III ’26 says the program has shown him “how leaders use empathy, honesty and trust to propel them to the top, but ultimately I learned a lot about myself.” Such purposeful leadership is a hallmark reason for the creation of SBLF.

The program also promotes experiential learning: students work on team-based consulting projects to solve real-world problems, which includes addressing grand challenges, a pillar of Smith’s strategic plan. “I’ve been exposed to topics at Smith during my first year of college that I probably would have overlooked were it not for SBLF,” says finance major Margarita Salazar ’27.

Mentorship and community-building are also woven into the fabric of this top-drawer program. It is a program many alumni say they wish they’d had when they were at Smith. SBLF exemplifies innovation and creativity and demonstrates how the Smith School is re-imagining education to position our future business leaders for success.

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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.

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