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School Senior Nia Pittman Meets Coach K at Duke University’s LEAD Business Institute

  • LEAD Trophy
  • Nia with Larry Drake
  • Nia Certificates

So you want to be an entrepreneur? A CEO? Or perhaps you see yourself working on Wall Street, developing an innovative new technology, or leading the marketing strategy for one of the world’s most iconic brands. If you are a high school junior, who is considering a career in business, the LEAD Summer Business Institute is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Since 1980, LEADership, Education and Development (LEAD) has partnered with leading U.S corporations, universities and government agencies to mentor and influence high-potential youth from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in business. Since its inception, over 10,000 scholars have participated in summer programs at prestigious institutions of higher learning such as University of Michigan, Northwestern, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Emory University, New York University and Lehigh University.

The prestigious and highly competitive summer program is 2-3 weeks in length. Participants receive hands-on instruction in business at a leading university. They have an opportunity to interact with executives at top corporations. They are immersed in campus-life and participate in a variety of cultural activities, and they have an opportunity to build a network of valuable relationships with peers and LEAD alumni that can last a lifetime. 

This summer, Romulus High School’s very own Nia Pittman, who is currently a senior and dual enrollment student, participated in the LEAD program at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. The highly selective class of thirty 11th grade students represented fourteen states in the U.S.A and Puerto Rico. Nia was the only student from Michigan. For Nia, highlights of the program included:

  • Meeting world-renowned Duke University basketball coach, “Coach K”, Mike Krzyzewski, at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  • Participating in a Business Competition – her team tied for 1st place, for their business plan to launch new product, “Last Resort”, a wearable technology (in the form of a safety bracelet, watch and necklace) for teens.
  • Teambuilding at Triangle Training Center in Pittsboro, North Carolina

In summarizing her summer experience, Nia says, “What I liked the most about LEAD was the experience itself, the diversity, and the relationships. I went to LEAD expecting to stay to myself for three weeks but I made friendships that I know will last for the rest of my life. I learned so much about business and entrepreneurship. We got the chance to listen to many different speakers who gave us very valuable information that I can take and use for the rest of my career.”

When asked about her team’s winning business idea and successful presentation, Nia proudly states, “I learned what it was like to really work with a team on a plan where everyone had different ideas, positions and roles but we had to come together to finish our plan and be successful.”

And what was it like meeting Duke’s famous basketball coach? Nia responds, “It was very nice to meet Coach K. He gave us advice on what it’s like to work as a team and how during one particular season the team was at its lowest point and was able to overcome and take the victory. He was able to tie that back into real life and what we were going to face working as a team while we were at LEAD.”

Nia learned about LEAD from Linda Denham, Romulus High School liaison for Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan and Michigan Ross School of Business Enriching Academics and Collaborating with High Schools Program (MREACH). Nia has participated in both programs and in addition to excelling academically is involved in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., AKA Teens, mentoring program and a variety of extracurricular activities at RHS including: the National Honor Society, band, softball team, cheerleading and the Gear Up Program.

Her advice for those interested in applying to LEAD is, “Do it! Turn in everything on time and embrace this opportunity with open arms, eyes, and ears.  I am so grateful to Ms. Denham for providing me with the information to apply for LEAD and pushing me to finish the application. This is an experience I will forever be grateful for and I am not just saying this. I mean this with my whole heart. I still have my group chat with all of the LEAD students and RTAs and we can just talk about anything and support each other. We make it a mission to visit each other and stay in communication no matter what state anyone is in.”


Interested in learning more about LEAD? Visit http://www.leadprogram.org/ for more information. The application deadline for Summer 2017 is February 15, 2017.