Miami Business School Hosts National Commercial Real Estate Program for Minority High School Students

August 8, 2019

Miami Business School Hosts National Commercial Real Estate Program for Minority High School Students


By Richard Westlund

For Zachary Cancio, a high school junior from North Miami, the NEXUS Summer Real Estate program hosted by Miami Business School, led to a better understanding of how cities are planned, designed and built.  For Skyler Hancock, a high school junior from New York City, the two-week program was a great introduction to commercial real estate. Summing up the experience, Alexander Gomez, a junior from Yonkers, New York, said, “I learned a great deal about the real estate business – from marketing to finance. It’s also been a lot of fun.”

Cancio, Hancock and Gomez were among 28 high school students from around the country who took part in the NEXUS Summer Program, an academic-intensive experience created to expose teens of color to a variety of colleges and career opportunities. MBS hosted the flagship NEXUS program, called “City of the Future – Built By You,” from July 21 to August 1. 

MBS Dean John A. Quelch welcomed the students, and EllenMarie McPhillip, assistant dean for undergraduate education, gave a motivational talk about the value of a college education. Andrea Heuson, professor of finance, organized the summer program with the assistance of student volunteers. She thanked the members of the school’s Real Estate Programs Advisory Board who sponsored the program and commercial real estate professionals who volunteered their time to explain commercial real estate concepts and offer career advice to the students.

Heuson also encouraged the high school students to reach out to the real estate and finance professionals they met this summer, and continue learning about the field.  “I encourage you to thank the professionals you met and stay in touch,” she said. “Start building your networks now, and keep those doors open, because you never know when they can be helpful.”

During their visit, the students explored the University of Miami's Coral Gables campus with a focus on Miami Business School, and visited Wynwood, South Beach and other points of interest. Among the highlights were guided tours of the luxury Faena Miami Beach and the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Opa-locka, followed by a meeting with the city’s mayor. 

The NEXUS program culminated with a real-world case competition, as four student teams crafted proposals to revitalize an underutilized 14-acre site across from the Amazon center in Opa-locka. The winning “Transformers” team presented a plan called “Glenn’s Point” that called for 275 units of rental apartments with a pool, gym and community center. Their mixed-use plan also included leasable retail space for tenants offering services to the Opa-locka community, including a supermarket, clothing stores, indoor recreational activities, and a year-round indoor farmer’s market offering fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. “With easy access to easy access to Tri-Rail and major highways, our plan would transform Opa-locka, allowing residents to shop, play and eat right in their neighborhood,” the team said.

Although the academic focus was learning about the field of commercial real estate and the characteristics of Opa-locka’s market, there were plenty of other educational takeaways from the program as well. Several evening sessions focused on team building, creating resumes, applying for college, and developing the social skills needed for success in the business world. It also gave the students a first-hand look at the South Florida community. “I hadn’t been to Miami before, and it was a pleasure to be able to see some of the highlights of the city,” said Jonathan Zamudio, from Houston. “It was a privilege to come here see all the great things that Miami Business School has to offer its students.”