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Students Graduate with Minor in Entrepreneurship

2009 Graduates  Grads

Chapel Hill, N.C. — UNC-Chapel Hill's economics department held a special ceremony May 10 to honor 50 new graduates representing 21 majors who earned a minor in entrepreneurship.

Joe DeSimone, the Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC, was keynote speaker, introduced by Senior Associate Dean for Social Sciences and International Programs Karen Gil, who oversees the entrepreneurship minor. Graduates Ryan Perlowin and Carlos Toriello also spoke at the ceremony.

"The summer internship program provides a wonderful learning opportunity for our students," said economics professor John Stewart, who directs the minor. "Students get the chance to see how the things they have learned in the classes can actually be applied to real world problems in the businesses and nonprofits where they intern. We view the internship component of the minor as one of the keys to our success with this program."

Perlowin, an English major, said that with the exception of the Tar Heels winning the national basketball championship, the entrepreneurship minor was the best experience he had at Carolina. "The entrepreneurship minor changed my way of thinking," said Perlowin. "I learned about the potential to innovate in any field across a broad range." Perlowin said he looked forward to every entrepreneurship class, and noted the strong support and accessibility of the teachers. "I developed some important relationships and strong bonds with the faculty."

The minor's required internship was "the most influential experience of my life," Perlowin said, and he credits it with completely changing his career path.

"At first I was undecided about going to Beijing for my internship," said Perlowin. But then his program mentor, University Entrepreneur-in-Residence Buck Goldstein, reminded him that this was an historic time to go to Beijing, with the Olympics held there and the country's economy opening to foreign investment. "He said it was an incredible opportunity I should not pass up, and I realized he was right, so I took it."

Perlowin and 15 other students completed internships through the CEI Beijing Program in summer 2009. Perlowin's internship with Alan Wong, an American entrepreneur who has opened several successful restaurants in Beijing, led him to reconsider his career direction, and he will be working as a manager-in-training with Union Square Hospitality Group in New York after graduation.

Chase Beck also described his internship in Beijing as a one-of-a kind opportunity. Beck, a public relations major in UNC's School of Journalism and Mass Communications, interned with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in Beijing. "The whole experience of the entrepreneurship minor led me to a new way of thinking, and seeing things from a different perspective," said Beck.

Beck saw the entrepreneurship minor as a way to gain business knowledge and experience while pursuing a major other than business. He credits the internship opportunity and the outstanding professors in the minor with his being selected as one of only six participants of the National Football League's Junior Rotational Program, which he will begin in June. He will spend two years completing 6-12 month projects at the NFL in areas such as marketing, event planning and media sales.

The minor in entrepreneurship is a key program of the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative, offered by the economics department to undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences. The minor focuses on helping students complement their major area of study with an understanding of what is involved in creating new commercial, social, scientific and artistic ventures.

As many as 15 additional students are expected to graduate with a Minor in Entrepreneurship in August and December.