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EPG Students Tour Appalachian Entrepreneurships

Sixteen students from BC’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good program (EPG) recently departed from Berea on a journey from the classroom to the ‘real world.’

The group traveled to more than six cities around Southeastern Kentucky, for a tour that included 10 of the state’s leading entrepreneurial companies to see how they could apply their classroom knowledge to a community. EPG co-director, Debbi Brock, commented, “In this tour, we wanted to get the students connected to the Appalachian region. We wanted them to see entrepreneurs in Southeastern Kentucky and see how they’re making positive change within the community.” Shawn Kennedy, a junior theatre major said about the field trip, “it was interesting to experience Appalachian entrepreneurs with other fellows not from the region. Seeing the positive impact these entrepreneurs have made is enlightening.”

The EPG program is a two-summer program that helps students explore the questions: What is entrepreneurship? What is “entrepreneurship for the public good”? How do entrepreneurs create value, not only for themselves and the enterprises they lead, but also for the communities they live and work in and society as a whole? Through the program, students learn how small businesses and nonprofit ventures are employing socially and environmentally responsible practices to provide jobs and build healthy communities. “The program is geared toward any student who has the entrepreneurial spirit and who wants to make a positive impact on the Appalachian region. We help students experience entrepreneurship as a conduit to complete this goal, whether starting a business or a non-profit organization,” says Brock.

The EPG program bridges several curricular and co-curricular areas and makes connections among and across programs. While students learn through typical lectures, they are also able to experience what they are learning through classroom exercises and community projects. At the completion of the first summer, the students are asked to complete a market plan for a business or non-profit to a board of local business leaders. “That experience is real,” comments Brock. “The community project also allows them to take what they’ve learned in a classroom and apply it within a community serving a real need.”

While the program works within a system of classes and experience over two summers, students who cannot commit to a two-year program can enroll in other courses offered as part of Berea’s expanding entrepreneurship and leadership curriculum or participate in campus-wide activities open to all students.

During the trip, BC junior, Jessa Turner kept a diary to chronicle her experiences.

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