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Alumni, instructors and friends of the entrepreneurship minor connect at inaugural event


Nov. 9, 2009

Alumni, instructors and friends of the entrepreneurship minor connect at inaugural event

University entrepreneur-in-residence Buck Goldstein and public policy professor Maryann Feldman (above right), both instructors in the minor, talk with alumna Braden Rawls at the inaugural alumni event. Brad Evans

Ford Eubanks and Elizabeth Basnight James Dillard and Dedren Snead

Chapel Hill, N.C. — Alumni, instructors, mentors and friends of UNC's minor in entrepreneurship gathered in Chapel Hill Nov. 6, the start of Homecoming weekend, for the program's inaugural alumni event.

The minor in entrepreneurship is a signature program of the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative directed by the Department of Economics for undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences. It has served more than 400 students in its introductory course since it began in 2005.

"One of the lessons of the introductory course is the importance of people and networking," said John Stewart, professor of economics and director of the minor. "It would seem a terrible loss to not keep in touch with our students and help them keep in touch with each other."

Buck Goldstein, university entrepreneur-in-residence and senior lecturer in the minor, said, "We are just beginning to reconnect with our graduates and the results have been astonishing. Not surprisingly, they all want to give back and they have very clear ideas about how they want to do it. The alumni event is just the beginning of a process whereby our graduates will play a major role in the life of the minor in entrepreneurship."

The event was a chance to renew current connections and forge new ones.

Alumni committee member James Dillard, executive director of Nourish International, likes staying in touch with the program in part because students in the minor make good interns.

"Nourish uses quite a few interns from the minor. They usually have motors that run a bit more quickly," he said. Nourish International began as a UNC student-led project, expanded through participation in the Carolina Challenge, and supports student-led ventures on campuses nationwide that raise funds and increase awareness about the global hunger crisis.

"One of the things that I learned most from the minor was the attitude that, as important as planning and ideas are, execution is the thing that makes the difference between success and failure, that there's a balance between planning and mitigating risk and forward motion. I use those lessons often during my work with Nourish," Dillard said.

Brad Evans, another alumni committee member, is now enrolled in UNC's Master of Accounting program. The minor, especially the exposure to successful entrepreneurs who spoke to his classes, helped teach Evans to think differently, he said. "It was great to meet people who are out in the world conducting business and hear their thought processes," he said.

Ford Eubanks, also in the MAC program and a member of the alumni committee, said the minor prepared him well for the group work that is a fixture of the concentrated one-year program. "In the MAC program, we spend a lot of time in teams brainstorming. The minor prepared me by allowing us to work with people we'd never met before to solve complex problems."

Christina Kyriazi, an alumna who lives in Charlotte, works in customer research for Family Dollar stores. She was in town for Homecoming. "It's great to reconnect with people from the minor outside of work or academics," she said.

The minor in entrepreneurship will hold its spring alumni events March 26-27. For more information, contact Elizabeth Basnight, internship director, at (919) 843.8824 or elizabeth.basnight@unc.edu.