Irfaun Karim, center, a student from St. Louis University High who participated in the 2019 Fleischer Scholars program.
High school student thrives as Olin Fleischer Scholar

Irfaun Karim is a St. Louis native and rising senior from St. Louis University High School who recently attended the Olin Fleischer Scholars Program. He wrote this for the Olin Blog.

Before entering this program, I really had no clue what I was planning on doing in the future, but thankfully, I have it semi-figured out and plan on studying international business.

When one of my close teachers emailed me about the Olin Fleischer Scholars Program, I really didn’t think much about it. I let the email lose itself within the hundreds of other emails that I had stockpiled in my account while I went on with my hectic high school life.

Students in the Fleischer Scholars program in 2019, including Irfaun Karim, in yellow.
Students in the Fleischer Scholars program in 2019, including Irfaun Karim, in yellow.

A few days later, my brother sent me a video about the program, and it was at that moment when I first became somewhat interested.

Having grown up in the LOU, I know particularly well how prestigious Washington University is, so when I applied to the OFSP, I believed I had no chance of getting accepted. But to my surprise, in late June, both my brother and I received an email saying we had gotten in.

Even with all this being said, we both thought of this program as more of a burden that would ruin a precious week of our summer break instead of the actual beneficial experience that it truly is.

Now that I’ve had more than a week to reflect on all that has happened, I really am grateful for everything this program did for me. Before attending, I had had a total of zero experience being at a college campus, and also had zero experience doing anything business related.

Building lasting relationships

This program allowed me to experience true college life for the first time while also introducing me to the business world through both simple and interesting lectures done by Washington University staff, and also through open panels with alumni working at various St. Louis-based companies. Seeing how a degree in business can directly lead to a stable and successful career was one of the most impactful parts of this whole week.

This being said, while the campus and all the business related activities were both great, without a doubt the greatest thing to come out of this experience would have to be all the meaningful relationships that I built in such a short span of time.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that in this one week long program would I create some of the most significant friendships I had ever had. Through the joy, excitement, sleepiness, fun and laughter that comes with attending the Olin Fleischer Scholars Program, you really do build special bonds with people.

Now future scholars, if there’s one piece of advice I would give you, it would be to go into this program without being afraid of reaching out to people. This program is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to speak to and learn from world-class professors, so make sure you make the most of it.

Also, as I stated before, the people you will meet are one of a kind, so be sure to appreciate them from day one. Well that’s about it from me. Make sure to enjoy all that the 314 has to offer and go Bears!

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