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Ivey's Community Engagement Club breaks educational barriers for youth

May 7, 2024

ICEC Executive Team 2023 24

The 2023-2024 ICEC Executive Team. Top row, l to r: Michael Lee, Duomi Ding, Nunu Mequanint, Tobi Ayodele. Bottom row l to r: Haneen Bishara, Shirley Wang, Maisha Alam, Catherine Wu. Not pictured: Basil Subhani.

For Michael Lee, an HBA '24 candidate, accessible education is more than just a cause to support—it’s a social issue that he relates to on a personal level.  

Reflecting on his middle and high school career, Lee acknowledged that he lacked access to enhanced learning opportunities.

“When I was young, the schools that I went to didn’t have the best educational services to the point where my middle school had to close down,” he said. “That had a big impact on my childhood.”

After completing his first year of the HBA program and experiencing Ivey's Case Method Learning, Lee wanted to connect with local youth to break the same barriers he faced as a young student. 

Fellow HBA student, Duomi Ding, was also inspired to engage with the local community to spread awareness about the value of pursuing a business degree. She specifically praised the HBA program’s 2+2 structure, which encourages students to explore other fields in their first two years of study at Western University before attending Ivey for the remainder.

“The 2+2 program helped me realize that there’s a benefit to having students from non-business backgrounds interact with each other,” she said. “It enriches the conversation both inside and outside of the classroom.”

To achieve these goals, Lee and Ding formed the Ivey Community Engagement Club (ICEC), a student-led initiative that aims to engage underserved youth with fundamental business concepts using Ivey’s case method. With guidance from Ivey faculty, ICEC members teach cases to the high school students as well as provide training and mentorship.

Currently, the club has partnerships with four secondary schools in the London area including Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Saunders, Westminster, and London Central. More than 140 high school students participated in the program during its inaugural year. 

HBA candidates lead the class

To prepare for classroom sessions with the high school students, 20 HBA1 students attended a series of workshops led by Ivey faculty covering topics like business fundamentals, slide deck creation, and teaching note development.

Though Ivey students will have participated in hundreds of cases by the time they graduate, leading a case study session involves approaching the case from a different perspective.

“You have to be able to anticipate the questions and also consider the different ways a student might think about the subject matter,” said Ding.

Once the initial training workshops were completed, the HBA1 instructors travelled to the high schools once a month to host case study sessions covering core business subjects like accounting basics, leadership, entrepreneurship, and communication. The cases also encouraged the high school students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Operating much like a traditional Ivey class, the high school students received the case ahead of time to prepare and were encouraged by HBA instructors to actively participate in discussions. By the end of the program, the students experienced seven case studies.

After the final session of the year, the high school students participated in a case competition to put their new learned skills into practice. One winning team from each school was then selected to visit Ivey and present their winning ideas to a panel of faculty members.

Making strides in accessible education

Reflecting on ICEC’s inaugural year, both Lee and Ding said they are thrilled with the outcome of the club’s efforts to foster enhanced learning opportunities.

“This whole experience has made great strides for our devotion to accessible education and community engagement,” said Lee. “We hope we've laid a solid foundation to keep breaking barriers and sparking curiosity in students all over London and beyond.”

Special thanks to the faculty and staff who supported the initiative

Faculty – Martin Eidenberg, HBA ’16, MBA ’24 candidate, and Trina Ruthes, MBA ’18 (Business Foundations Lecturers); Shyam Venkatesan (Assistant Professor, Finance); David Wood, HBA ’97, MBA ’12 (Ivey Lecturer, Operations Management)

HBA program Matthew Pizzuti, MSc ’18, HBA Recruitment Director

John F. Wood Centre for Innovation in Business EducationZoe Kinias, Wood Chair and Ivey Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour; and Maggie Weller, Senior Associate

Morrisette Institute – Nick Fox, HBA ’23, Entrepreneurship Advisor

London Central Secondary School – Miranda Lee, Student Liaison