BHP Class of 2018 Connects at Discover BHP

Discover BHP Co-Chairs Nicole Chu and Neal Makkar

Discover BHP Co-Chairs Nicole Chu and Neal Makkar

Written by Nicole Chu, BHP sophomore and Discover BHP Co-Chair 

This past Saturday, more than 100 admitted students and their families flocked to campus for Discover BHP, a day-long showcase of everything the Business Honors Program has to offer. My co-chair Neal Makkar (BHP/Finance ’15) and I had the honor of planning the event, and we are excited to report that thanks to the combined efforts of the BHP faculty, staff, and students, the day was a resounding success.

Neal and I received so much positive feedback from the attendees: parents raved about the BHP’s 100% job placement rate and the stellar academics, students rejoiced at the vibrant community and extracurricular opportunities, and both praised the friendly, professional demeanor of all the current students, faculty, and staff. I cannot count how many times a guest approached me to tell me that the event had effectively raised his/her opinion of the Business Honors Program, and that it was the people who made all the difference.

I could not agree more with that sentiment: it is the people who invest their time into the program that make the BHP one of the preeminent undergraduate business programs in the country. Moreover, having met them myself, I have no doubt that the latest batch of students will continue this legacy and raise it to still greater heights.

To the Class of 2018: Welcome to the BHP! We cannot wait to see the great things you will accomplish on the Forty Acres. Here’s a quick recap of the day for those who weren’t able to join us.


Admitted students getting to know one another

Admitted students getting to know one another

We started the day bright and early in the SAC Auditorium, where BHP faculty director Robert Prentice rattled off an impressive list of BHP employers to dazzle our guests. Following his opening remarks, a group of volunteers took the prospective students out for small group icebreakers and a tour of McCombs. Meanwhile, academic advisor Tisha Monsey and admissions director Paul Pritchett hosted a Q&A-style information session for the parents. Once reunited, students and parents participated in a series of panel discussions covering a wide range of topics: student life, careers and internships, and study abroad.

Lunch was my favorite part of the day—and not just because of the delicious meal. I simply enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the admitted students and their families in a relatively informal setting, fielding questions about my experiences in the program and sharing general college advice. After the meal, Jeffrey Schwartz (BHP/Finance ’07) delivered the keynote speech, in which he discussed how the BHP and UT prepared him for his career path, which has spanned investment banking, business development and entrepreneurship.

Students attending Jade DeKinder's marketing class

Students attending Jade DeKinder’s marketing class

Hunger abated, the high school seniors returned to the business school for a taste of BHP academics. Half of the students participated in a mock marketing class with Dr. Jade DeKinder, and the other half experienced Dr. Robert Prentice’s business law class. In the meantime, the parents met members of the BHP Parents’ Council in another interactive panel discussion.

For the final session, parents and students came together in the SAC Auditorium yet again to hear from our esteemed faculty. Some of our most beloved BHP professors were joined by Associate Dean Dave Platt for an entertaining and informative discussion.

Before Discover BHP officially ended, Neal and I had one final surprise for our guests. We had spent the day bragging about the breadth of extracurricular involvement by BHP students, so we figured we should spotlight some of that talent. Aware that BHP/MIS sophomore Pearce Illmer was the music director for the a cappella group One Note Stand, we invited the group to perform. They sang a soulful rendition of “Morning Comes” by Delta Rae, and then led our prospective Longhorns in “The Eyes of Texas.” One Note Stand was well-received by the audience, if the number of phone recordings I saw in the audience is any indication. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Alumni Spotlight: Ty Cobb, Director of Global Engagement at the HRC – Class of 2003

Ty CobbTy Cobb, BHP ’03, is the Director of Global Engagement at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Ty works to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. Prior to launching HRC’s global initiative, he was instrumental in passing the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and an LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act in his role as legislative counsel for HRC and while working for Senator Edward Kennedy.

You received your undergraduate degree and law degree from UT. How do you think UT and BHP prepared you for your career?
I’ve been a lawyer, lobbyist, congressional staffer, public speaker, program director, and manager. All of these roles required different skills, and many of those required were things I learned in BHP. My business background has given me a unique perspective in each of these roles. And, all those case studies were certainly helpful when planning for and launching a new program at the Human Rights Campaign.

What was your career progression after graduating from law school?
I went directly to Bracewell & Giuliani in Dallas where I worked for a year. I then moved to another firm in Washington, DC, Sidley Austin. I stayed there until I began as counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy, where I worked to secure passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the Senate. It was my first experience working on LGBT rights, but one I’ll always remember. After Senator Kennedy died, I became a lawyer and lobbyist at HRC for several years before getting the opportunity to launch a global program.

What new challenges do you face in this new role in global engagement?
Starting a new initiative from scratch has been a huge challenge. It has been an entrepreneurial adventure, and an opportunity for personal growth. Aside from that, it’s emotionally draining to see some of the more horrific situations LGBT people face across the world. Nearly 80 countries criminalize same-sex relationships – five of which actually punish individuals with death. And, on top of criminalization, several countries have now begun to outlaw public advocacy for LGBT rights. Transgender individuals, as well as those who are lesbian, gay and bisexual, face violence and persecution, some of which is government sanctioned or even condoned by the victim’s family.

There is a lot going on right now with the LGBT rights movement. What is it like being on the front lines of the fight for equality?
Nearly every day is filled with a new dramatic twist or turn. While several countries took big leaps forward last year with marriage equality and strengthening transgender rights, countries like Russia, Uganda, and Nigeria took huge steps backwards. The world is being pulled in two directions and I’m glad to be part of the momentum pulling us closer to a world where individuals aren’t denied their human rights because of who they love or who they are. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job has been meeting human rights defenders from around the world who have become the catalysts for change in their home countries.

What are you spending most of your time on in your new role?
As the LGBT community has gained ground in the U.S., our opposition has lost its momentum. Their decades-long winning streak at the ballot box ended in 2012 when we gained marriage equality in Maine, Washington, and Maryland. As such, in 2013, we started to see anti-LGBT Americans – like Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage – spending more time abroad preaching intolerance and promoting junk science. There is a growing American industry of exporting hate. And dozens of Americans and American organizations are involved in the industry. At this current moment, I’m fixated on a project to expose, combat, and counter the messages of these Americans.

What has been the most meaningful achievement in your career so far?
Being part of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” DADT repeal was the first issue I worked on at HRC, and I became extremely close with many of the service members who lost their careers because of DADT. Many of the folks affected by DADT had spent decades serving their country only to be discharged because of who they love. The law made no sense. Repeal of the law provided the opportunity for so many in the community to heal from the experience of being told by our government that they were less than equal simply because they were gay or lesbian.

What is your pie in the sky goal for your time at the HRC?
From Cameroon to Jamaica, there are LGBT activists who are fighting to combat violence, stigma, and discrimination just because of who they are. While the laws in each country and culture may differ, these activists are working towards the goal of full inclusion and equality for fully realized LGBT lives around the world. I would like to see HRC play a pivotal role in connecting the work of activists to build a stronger, more connected global equality movement.

What advice would you have for current BHP students?
Unless you’re in the minority, you probably don’t know where you’ll be in ten years. You don’t know what opportunities will open up before you. It’s important to constantly challenge yourself to gain new skills so that you can take advantage of opportunities when they arise. If you feel comfortable in what you’re doing, it’s time to do more. I grew the most as a professional when I put myself into extremely uncomfortable situations that made me do things that I wasn’t particularly thrilled to be doing – public speaking, networking outside my usual circles, taking on monstrous writing projects, and such.

Junior Bradley Roofner Pursues Passion for Entrepreneurship

HatTee_logoWithin two weeks of starting at UT, BHP junior, Bradley Roofner, partnered with his roommate and Computer Science junior, Logan Brown, and co-founded HatTee, a company that sells golf caps that hold tees. Three years later the duo has taken full advantage of the entrepreneurial opportunities Austin and UT have to offer, increasing sales tenfold in under a year.

Roofner and Logan started their sales on campus, “We designed and ordered our own hats online and added the tee holsters ourselves,” said Roofner. “We began selling the hats to fraternities and sororities. We sold a lot of hats pretty quickly.”

The real turning point for their company came just five short months later when they showed their product in the PGA Merchandise Show in Miami, FL, one of the top shows for equipment manufacturers and people in the golf industry to launch their products for the year. “As college students we were able to approach it very humbly,” said Roofner. “We wore suits instead of the normal khaki pants and polo. People took interest in wanting to hear about our product.” It was at the merchandise show that Roofner and Brown met a majority of their current connections, including a contact based out of Thailand who coordinates the supply chain management of the product overseas.

Their success has not come without challenges, “Everybody has more grey hair than you,” said Roofner. “Being able to communicate on the same level and have credibility has been the most difficult part with each step of the company.”  Roofner found McCombs staff to be helpful during this process. John Butler, Director of The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, reached out to Roofner and helped create the HatTee business plan. BHP marketing professor, Leigh McAlister also offered guidance, “She gave me some great advice to go after the higher clientele and not to lower our prices so we could offer a premium product,” said Roofner.


Bradley Roofner (right) with co-founder and partner, Logan Brown. Photo credit: The Daily Texan

HatTee now works mainly with large companies, supplying promotional items for their client’s shareholders and investors. The company also sponsors various golf tournaments and charity events offering their product as giveaway gifts.

As for the future, Roofner and Logan are currently talking with potential buyers of the patent. While they have enjoyed growing their company and learned many valuable lessons along the way, Roofner would like to see the HatTee brand taken further, “We see the future of the product as one that can be most successful when it reaches the average golfer. We aren’t the best company to make that happen, we lack the brand presence and marketing force to bring the idea to the masses,” said Roofner.

They hope the right buyer could take their product the rest of the way there. Regardless of what happens to the product, it was a great learning experience for Roofner and affirmed his passion for entrepreneurship.