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Citi contributes $25,000 for USF’s Corporate Mentor Program

By Alyssa Clementi

Citi has contributed $25,000 to the USF's Muma College of Business's Corporate Mentor Program, a program aimed at first generation college students who excel in both leadership and business skills.

The mentorship program prepares these students for the professional world through the help of an active corporate mentor in the Tampa Bay area. Along with the monetary contribution, Citi has also provided 25 mentors to volunteer with the 123 business students who are participating in the program. The remaining mentors come from companies such as Fifth Third Bank, T. Rowe Price, and Raymond James Financial.

The check was presented at the Corporate Mentor Program's kick-off breakfast, held in the Muma College of Business on Oct. 21 at 8:30 a.m. During the breakfast, both Citi mentors and students were able to sit together and enjoy speeches from Moez Limayem, dean of the Muma College of Business, and keynote speaker Gregg Morton, Citi Tampa site president.

The program targets juniors and seniors who may not have had opportunities to shadow a parent in a professional workplace or attend networking events where parents in the corporate world might bring along their young adult son or daughter. Mentors provide access to opportunities where students learn about interviewing, corporate culture, networking, and how to become leaders in the corporate world.

"Active participants find that the workshops, seminars, dinners, and other opportunities help them develop professionally, as well as build the underlying skills that allow them to become tomorrow's leaders," said Program Director JR Haworth. "We have seen that, in many cases, former students who were mentored credit the program with helping them land that first job."

That's exactly what happened with Citi employees Ashley Mercurius and Bethany Gordon, two USF graduates who have signed up to be Citi mentors in the program. Both women began their Citi careers as part of the site internship program, which provides opportunities in all areas of the business, from supply chain systems to market operations to cyber threat intelligence.

They say that the lessons they learned as Corporate Mentor Program participants stuck with them throughout the internship experience.

"The Corporate Mentor Program gave me tremendous confidence through the rigorous professional development workshops. It provided me the foundation to be successful during my time as a Citi Summer Intern where I was given the opportunity to network with senior Citi executives. The confidence I developed showed me the unlimited potential I am capable of. It is an honor to represent Citi and give back to a program that has provided me with the skills for success." said Mercurius.

Haworth said the success of the Corporate Mentor Program can also be measured in numbers.

"In the past year, 100 percent of the Corporate Mentor Program participants not only graduated, but also have been placed in a corporate job," said Haworth. "Our current students also represent seven of the 25 Under 25 students, a program recognizing 25 outstanding undergraduate business students."

Morton says this kind of civic engagement is part of the company's long-term organic growth. Further embedding Citi in the local community is the ultimate goal. The bank has more than 5,500 employees in Tampa and the local site serves 20+ businesses as well as housing much of the company's professional services such as risk, compliance, legal, technology and institutional banking operations.

"While this could be a source for potential talent, we're primarily involved because we firmly believe that this is an impactful program that could help lead these students to independence and personal success," said Morton.

Students like Gabriel Soutura, a senior majoring in marketing, have seen firsthand how the program is beneficial to his professional future. Soutura, whose mentor is from Bristol Myers Squibb, believes the guidance students receive from mentors play a crucial part in their journey before and after graduation.

"This mentor program has benefitted me tremendously by giving me a mentor that opens paths and presents opportunities to me," said Soutura. "It's something I'm very fortunate and thankful to be a part of. Being a first generation student definitely brings a lot of pride to my family."

USF Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem says that the financial and volunteer support will make a significant difference in the lives of students like Soutura.

"Traditionally, first-generation students incur the largest student loan debt of any population and many of them work while going to school," Limayem said. "They often have little time to get involved in clubs or focus on the soft skills necessary in the workplace. Having dedicated mentors to help with these skills could make all the difference in the world."

"I am very grateful for all of these students," said Morton. "I have never been more optimistic about the future of the corporate world."