Emerging Leaders of Color

Emerging Leaders of Color Program Growing

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Among the Carlson School’s efforts toward a more equitable future in education is Emerging Leaders of Color, a unique opportunity for cohorts of high school students to experience and learn about business at the Carlson School. 

The free program has two main goals. The first is to cultivate the academic potential of underrepresented high school student leaders. The second is to increase the number of those students seeing themselves in and going to college.

High school students—grades 9 through 12—who apply and are accepted join a group that meets one Saturday a month for eight months, wherein they are exposed to business programs, faculty, and career options. While they participate in college preparation, professional development, and mentorship from current Carlson School undergraduate students, they also learn about a variety of business topics, from entrepreneurship to finance to marketing and more.

Attendees have taken to ELOC programming. After one session, an ELOC student said, “The speakers brought attention and new insight to very good information and important issues that are existing currently in our country’s business industry.”

Drawing a Diverse and Talented Group

Nearly 100 students have taken part in the program to date, growing from 36 students in its first year to 59 this year. At least one student from almost 40 high schools across the state has participated; while students have hailed primarily from metro-area high schools, ELOC added a student from Owatonna High School this year, too.

The first cohort of students represented a range of diverse backgrounds: 61 percent were Black or African American, 58 percent female, and almost half were first-generation students. The second cohort held steady the percentage of Black or African American students and first-generation students while Asian Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latinx, and female student numbers increased.

Overall, both cohorts boasted a 3.5 GPA and the majority of students also participate in college access programs.

A Pipeline to the U of M

Nearly 6 in 10 ELOC participants are high school seniors. Through ELOC college preparation, the students have been strong candidates for admission to several U of M colleges, including the Carlson School. 

Aisha Mohamed (’24, BSB) and Nini Dang (’24, BSB) became the first two ELOC alumni to enroll at the Carlson School in the Fall 2020 semester. 

This year, 29 seniors were admitted to U of M colleges and schools, including 8 to the Carlson School, and a total of 20 students confirming their enrollment. Students from ELOC were also admitted to the U of M College of Science & Engineering, College of Liberal Arts, College of Design, College of Education & Human Development, and School of Nursing. 

Importance of Mentorship

Early enrollment success is encouraging, but there’s another benefit, too: Current Carlson School students who are providing mentorship are finding they’re getting something out of the relationships they’re developing with ELOC students. 

Student mentor Stephanie Avalos (’20, BSB), says, “ELOC has given me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself. . . By providing encouragement and support, I have personally seen the power of students who share similar backgrounds to mine talk about their experience in a space dominated by people who look nothing like them. With my involvement in ELOC, I am helping to create a space for the next generation of leaders to succeed.”


ELOC is taking applications for its 2021-22 cohort through May 28, 2021. Learn more about the program and apply now. Or, check the ELOC Instagram page.

By The Numbers


Cohort Total


Seniors in ELOC


Seniors applied to the University


Seniors admitted to the Carlson School