Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gaining a competitive edge

When our students return to campus next week after a well-deserved break, those competing in the 2016-2017 State System Business Plan Competition will be busy putting the final touches on months’ of work that will be judged by a panel of business experts. Thanks to private sponsors, we will be awarding $17,000 in cash investments that will help get three of the most promising business plans off the ground. While we often talk about the winners, and rightfully so, what shouldn’t be forgotten is all of the hard work that goes into getting each of the 200+ business plans ready for center stage.

Perhaps the best way for me to convey the lasting impact of this competition is through the eyes of a former student who competed in 2012-2013 and who now helps support current students with their own business development efforts. Joshua Domitrovich, who holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Clarion University, is the coordinator for career mentoring and internships at Clarion’s Center for Career and Professional Development. While Joshua was a student, Dr. Kevin Roth introduced him to the competition during an entrepreneurship course.

Joshua assisted his classmate, Andrew Naugle, with developing Maddie’s Promise—a non-profit designed to provide elderly individuals with the opportunity to make one last wish a reality. While the plan didn’t win, Joshua found the experience he gained in the process immeasurable: the exposure to successful high-profile professionals, the feedback he received to make the plan a reality, and the relationships he developed with faculty.

I encourage everyone across the State System to congratulate all of the students who made the commitment to this competition last fall, and to thank the faculty and administrators who have helped them along their journey. We know that each student will walk away with the skills they need to compete.

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