UA, Protective Life Partner To Assist Underrepresented Students

Students studying

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – With support from Protective Life Corporation, The University of Alabama is launching an initiative to help underrepresented students get a head start on finding their potential path to a business college experience.

Support from Protective, based in Birmingham, will start the Diversity in Business Bridge Program in the UA Culverhouse College of Business. It’s a recognition of Protective’s shared priority with the University of improving practices oriented around diversity, equity and inclusivity in the workplace and world at-large.

The program will recruit and prepare about 25 high school juniors annually from underrepresented populations in Alabama for academic success across all business disciplines at UA via a summer residential experience and a robust college prep protocol. Students who decide to attend UA will be invited back for a second summer that will focus on easing the transition to college and getting off to a strong start.

Furthermore, scholarships, financial assistance and ongoing development support and opportunities will be available for participants who choose to study business at UA.

“When we talk about making Culverhouse an inclusive and welcoming environment that prepares students to become innovators and leaders in business, we do so knowing that we have a team that helps make it so, a team that includes our faculty, staff, and community and corporate partners,” said Dr. Kay Palan, Culverhouse dean. “This new aspect of our relationship with Protective Life will do much toward helping Bridge participants find success in their academic journey.”

The Diversity in Business Bridge Program will feature content that includes professional development, an introduction to business areas such as accounting, finance and marketing that track closely with Culverhouse’s degree offerings, and competency-building instruction in the areas of ethics and social responsibility, critical thinking, college skills, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

“This partnership is truly a win-win because our leaders will have the opportunity to grow and develop by providing mentorship to potential talent, and these students will gain support and development themselves.,” said Rich Bielen, Protective president and CEO. 

This comprehensive program is overseen by Dr. James King Jr., Culverhouse associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, professor of management and the Minnie Caddell Miles-Frank A. Rose Memorial Endowed C&BA Professorship of Leadership.

“Our holistic approach is designed to help students, who have been identified as having great potential to succeed in college and contribute to our state and society, overcome obstacles and become their best selves,” King said. “Our expectation with this new initiative is that those students who participate will be better prepared for college life and learning.”

Wendy Evesque, Protective executive vice president and chief human resources officer, said, “At Protective, we believe in fostering a diverse, equal and inclusive environment – both in the workplace and in our communities. This unique program provides both education and opportunity, which are foundational elements in supporting an equitable future for all. Protective is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Culverhouse College of Business to provide support for the Diversity in Business Bridge Program, which we believe will empower students, help them gain valuable exposure to potential career opportunities, and surround them with the support, resources and connections needed to achieve their goals.”

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