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Students Mingle with CEOs in the Windy City

Members of the Berea Entrepreneurs Club (BEC) traveled to Chicago November 2-4 for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO) annual conference.

(L-R) Nicholas Citizen, Melissa Williams, Samantha Stolt, Shaina Ricketts and Brandon Martin

The Berea College representatives included Nicholas Citizen, Brandon Martin, Shaina Ricketts, Nellie Spencer, Samantha Stolt and Melissa Williams. BEC manned a booth display that featured an interactive and informative “Who Wants to be an Entrepreneur Millionaire?” game.

The students also led a breakout session for over 35 conference attendees about social entrepreneurship and the way social entrepreneurs are changing the world. Author and educator Johanna Mair defines social entrepreneurship as “the innovative use of resource combinations to pursue opportunities aiming at the creation of organizations and/or practices that yield and sustain social benefits.” Current social entrepreneurs include the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus. When traditional lenders refused to help the poor in his country, Yunus established Grameen Bank to provide the poorest of the poor with the financial capital they needed to climb from poverty.

The keynote speakers for the conference included Larry Levy of Levy Restaurants, Helen Greiner of iRobot and the very enthusiastic Genevieve Thiers of sittercity.com. Thiers began her business after she saw a young mother-to-be walking around campus posting flyers asking for babysitters. At sittercity.com, parents can post openings and babysitters can look for a job. Levy spoke about entrepreneurial challenges, asserting at one point that, “Entrepreneurs don’t have failures, just really expensive experiences.” Inspired by the speakers, BC student Melissa Williams said, “This year was my second time attending the national conference in Chicago. It provided a mixture of knowledge and self-awareness and made me realize more about the potential and failures of the business world and question what my role among the masses is.”

Despite all the hard work and preparations for the adventure, Samantha Stolt said, “I enjoyed the conference; it was a great opportunity for my colleagues and me to network with other students around the nation and to hear successful entrepreneurs speak about their struggles and achievements.”

BEC meets every Tuesday in Draper room 114 at 7:00 p.m. BEC’s mission is to provide the necessary resources that enable students to learn from experienced entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, tour community organizations and network with other students interested in starting their own businesses. BEC also provides a foundation for students to begin to develop their own entrepreneurial leadership skills in preparation for the future, no matter what their potential endeavors may be. BEC is structured to encompass all majors, helping students assimilate entrepreneurial concepts. The club is now accepting new members.

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