Collaborative COB, CASL major seeing growth, student success

Christina Petricca

Christina Petricca is one of more than 30 students in the growing business studies secondary major, a College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and College of Business partnership created to complement and enhance the educational outcomes of the two colleges.

When Christina Petricca started her social work-focused internship, the senior expected to use the skills she’s learned in her behavioral sciences courses.

But what Petricca—who is a first responder intern at Wayne County Sexual Assault Forensics Examiners (WC SAFE), a nonprofit aiding domestic violence and sexual assault survivors—didn’t realize was how much her courses in her business studies secondary major (BSSM) program would come into play.

“I knew that I wanted to work somewhere where I could help people—that’s where my heart is. But that type of work isn’t always where the money is, so I wanted to get a business background too. I thought that the business studies major would make me more marketable, and I think it has. At my internship, I’ve been able to interact with the marketing director and her intern as well.”

Petricca is one of more than 30 students in the growing BSSM program, a College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (CASL) and College of Business (COB) partnership created in Fall 2015 to complement and enhance the educational outcomes of the two colleges.

In the program, the only one of its kind in the southeast Michigan region, a student must have his or her primary major in a non-business field—such as those offered by CASL—to declare business studies as the secondary major.

“Interdisciplinary skills are necessary to succeed in today’s complex market. The business studies secondary major allows students to gain fundamental business skills necessary for success in today’s complex workplace, while complementing the critical thinking and diverse perspectives gained through a liberal arts degree,” said COB Dean Raju Balakrishnan.

CASL Dean Martin Hershock said this approach has allowed students—like Petricca—to pursue their passion and feel confident in their career opportunities following graduation.

“We are confronted almost on a daily basis with statements made by the nation’s business leaders about the vital importance of the humanities and arts as a vehicle for inculcating creative thinking and ingenuity within those who study these areas and about how much they value these traits in their employees. At the same time, we are finding that students are often shying away from pursuing their passion in the humanities because they are worried about what they will be able to do with their degrees,” he said.

“The creation of this program enables students to pursue their interests in the liberal arts and humanities, and thus learn those important and transferable creative skills that are so highly valued by employers, while also learning some of those coveted business skills that they can employ in their future careers.”

Petricca, who graduates in April, said this interdisciplinary approach has given her confidence in her future. And what she’s learned in both her CASL and COB courses can help her WC SAFE clients—and those she serves along her career path— have confidence in theirs too.

“At my current position, I help advocate for people. We help fill out and file legal paperwork, get them connected to resources and are there to listen and help wherever we can,” she said. “With my business studies major, I can help in different ways too. I can share tips on budgeting, investing and working to create an overall solid financial foundation. That’s important too.”

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