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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

UNCP graduates three entrepreneurs; four win cash

UNC Pembroke’s Entrepreneurship Program awarded three certificates to its graduates on December 1 and awarded $1,100 in prizes to winners of its “elevator” competition.

The graduates completed 15 hours of coursework to earn their certificates. UNCP’s Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship supported the development of the program and donated cash prizes. The university also offers a minor in entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurship in its Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

Bradwitt Austin

Bradwitt Austin

Matthew Britt

Matthew Britt

Elicia Dellinger

Elicia Dellinger

Megan Jacobs

Megan Jacobs

Reggie Scott

Reggie Scott

Black Line

Candidates for certificates come from disciplines across campus, said Dr. Ramin Maysami, acting dean of the School of Business.

“This is a unique program because it is available to all majors,” Dr. Maysami told the graduates. “Entrepreneurs drive today’s economy. We hope that, at some time in your careers, what you learned in this program will help you start a business. And we hope that business is right here.”

The program is designed to launch real-world business start-ups for any interest. Melissa Sue Skrzylinski, a psychology major, was looking to add to her general knowledge before graduating in December.

“I thought business would be a good area, so I took several classes and really liked it,” she said. “I really like the capstone course where I wrote a business plan and presented it to the class.

The capstone course requires a business plan for a new enterprise. The elevator competition, an annual event, is a three-minute “pitch” for a new business; the event’s judges included Kyle Chavis of Lumbee Guarantee Bank.

Dr. Mike Menefee, the Thomas Family Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, built the program and directs it. He noted that students with 19 different majors are currently enrolled in the program.

“Today, we have three certificates for students who will graduate from the university this month,” Dr. Menefee said. “This is not an easy program, but we believe it is an important one.”

Receiving certificates were Bradwitt Austin, a business major; Reggie Scott, a political science major and Melissa Sue Skrzylinski, a psychology major.

In addition to earning a certificate, Scott, who also played football at UNCP, won second place and $300 in the elevator competition.

Matthew Britt, from Whiteville, N.C., won the elevator competition and $500. His hometown can look forward to a new business in the near future.

“When I graduate, my father and I are going to open an all-purpose repair shop for cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles,” Britt said. “Yes, I like to get my hands dirty.”

Elicia Dellinger, who won third place and $200, took a sweet approach to her pitch.

“I fed cupcakes to the judges,” Dellinger said. “I pitched opening a bakery called Blissfully Sweet. I like to cook; every year my mother and grandmother and I make holiday treats.”

A bakery may be “plan B” for Dellinger, a biology major who has applied to optometry school.

Megan Jacobs, a political science major, pitched a pet spa and boutique. Jacobs, who works part time as a Brave Tech troubleshooting computer problems across campus, said she likes animals and believes there is a need for pampering pets in the Pembroke area where she is from.

So while some of UNCP’s entrepreneurs have immediate plans for their own small business, others have used the program’s coursework to develop important skills—creativity, communication, management and others— that will be critical to their success, in whatever career they choose. 

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