HEC Paris is reaffirming its social engagement by opening the Grande Ecole Academies to students with disabilities.

After Christmas, students from L3 and M1 are always eager to get back to campus to attend a range of seminars called the Academies. Over three weeks, the Academies alternate between classroom lessons, practical workshops, and real-life experience in the field. These themed seminars are among the highlights of the Grande École educational program. “The forty or so Academies proposed cover a wide range of areas, including finance, public speaking, journalism, e-commerce, sport, and more. The Firefighters’ Academy brings the students to fire stations, the Emergency Services Academy takes them to hospitals, and so on. The students enjoy getting out of the classroom to discover the reality of different professions,” explained Amar Taki, Executive Director in charge of pedagogical innovation at HEC Paris.

Integrating young people with disabilities

This year, for the first time, five of the Academies will welcome eight students with disabilities from outside HEC. “This new H.Academies program has several objectives: to help its young participants find their place in the world of employment; to raise awareness among students — as well as HEC teachers and staff — about issues that affect disabled people; and to meet the needs of partner companies seeking to bring diversity into their recruitment process,” explained Valérie Leroy, Equal Opportunities Project Manager at HEC Paris. Adam, a fifth-year pharmacy student, attended every session of the Marketing 4.0 Academy in his wheelchair, thanks to his classmates, who took turns helping him. Adam found the experience “enriching, both in human terms and professionally”.

Sara, a young graduate in modern literature who is blind, impressed her fellow students in the Writing Academy with her natural ease, which made them forget any differences between them. Caroline, a business school student with hearing loss, attended the Business Skills and Negotiation Academy. She was delighted with this “immersive experience at HEC that will make a difference in our future”. “HEC really helped me learn how to put myself out there,” added Clara, another participant in the program. “Our inclusion was seamless.” And for all those involved, the experience was a beneficial one.