Next Generation Leadership Program hosts first information session of 2015


First-year students preparing to apply to BNSF Next Generation Leadership Program need a strong GPA, recommendation letters, a solid interview, convincing essays and the desire to be a leader.

All of this is part of the package presented by the 30+ students chosen every spring to be a part of the Next Gen program. 

The Next Gen program, which is part of the Neeley School of Business, is meant to help students cultivate the leadership skills they will need to succeed in and out of the business environment. 

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They practice various scenarios they could encounter in the business world. Some of the activities include practice in addressing conflict with peer-on-peer exercises and mock scenarios where they must tackle stressful situations. 

More than 50 pre-business first-year students came out in January for the first informational session. Applications will be accepted starting Feb. 20 and are due by 5 p.m. on March 20.

“The whole application can kind of be a little intimidating for sure,” said Berkley McFarlin, a first-year pre-business student. “I think we are all kind of feeling the same way about the application and the competitiveness of it.”

No more than 32 students are accepted each year. 

The numbers are capped to ensure a quality program, Program Manager Kirsten Fishel said.

“We want to make sure each student feels like they get a one-on-one relationship with the professors,” she said. 

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Fishel answered questions throughout the information session and provided the students with the necessary knowledge they need to know to apply. She also discussed what is expected and details about the intense application process that the students will go through this semester. 

Many current members of Next Gen attended the information session and interacted with first-year students. The members answered prospective students’ questions and gave advice on what they did to prepare for the application process.

“You’ve got to believe in yourself, as just enough reason to transform into something great,” said Anthony Molina, junior entrepreneurial management major, as his advice to first year pre-business students applying this semester. 

Junior Sarah Sheppard said her advice for incoming first-year pre-business students was to think through past leadership experiences and look at the values of Next Gen in comparison to them. The students should find similarities they can bring up in their interview.

The first-year students sought advice not only from the upperclassmen, but also from the director.

Ashley Zarate, a first-year pre-business student, said she is most excited “to meet a group of people who can help [her] rise to success,” through the Next Generation Leadership Program.