MEFA Institute: Entrepreneurship as Postsecondary Path

This webinar provides key information about the entrepreneurial mindset, showcases how entrepreneurship is a viable pathway for students after high school, and explores tools and resources that can be utilized in and out of the classroom. Hear from Adanma Ude, Regional Director of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a global educational nonprofit focused on bringing the power of entrepreneurship to youth. She is joined by NFTE alumni who share their postsecondary experiences.

Download the webinar slides to follow along.


Please note that this transcript was auto-generated. We apologize for any minor errors in spelling or grammar.

Julie Shields-Rutyna: Okay, I think we'll get started. It's a little after three, but welcome, everyone. Thank you so much for joining. My name is Julie Shields Rutina, and I am the director of college planning, education and training at MIFA, and I'm joined by my colleague, who is the director of K through 12 services, Jennifer Bento Pinyon, and we have a terrific webinar for you today.

So it's entrepreneurship, as a post secondary pathway. And I will just tell you a couple of things about MIFA and then we will move right on to logistics of the webinar. I will introduce our speakers and we'll go from there so we can show the next slide. So I think most of you know MIFA, but we are a state authority that was created in 1982, and we help families plan, save, and pay for college.

And we have loan, loans, low cost loans for families who need that type of financing. We also have the state's college savings plans. And then everything else we do is all about free guidance to families, to students, to parents, to school counselors, to college administrators around the college financing process.

So we're glad you're here with us and taking advantage of this MIFA Institute webinar. Please know that you can receive. Professional development points for this webinar as well. And a couple of logistics about the webinar. You can go to the next slide. It is, um, so we are going to record this webinar today.

So we'll send you the slides and we'll send you the recording tomorrow. So you'll have that. So you don't have to take Copious notes, and you can also share that with any of your colleagues who might miss this today. Um, in, in this area, I know there's been snow, a little storminess today, school cancellations, so, um, we will be sending this, uh, this webinar around to folks, but if you'd like to share it, please do so as well.

And if you have a question during the webinar, just put it into the Q& A section, and we will get to your questions. We're happy to. To answer all of those, if you need live transcript, you can click the closed captioning button. And with that, I'll just briefly introduce our presenters that I'm so thrilled you're going to get to hear from.

Um, I think you can go to the next slide also. Let's see. Yes, we're so fortunate to have a dama who day with us. She's a regional director for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which is better known as nifty. And what a what a great name that is. And we have Liza morale, who is a nifty alumna. Um, and she's going to talk with you all about her experience with, um, with different programs and how she's carrying that forward right now.

She's a sophomore at Brown University. And so with that, I am going to turn it over because there's just so, so much to hear from, um, our expert presenters.

Adanma Ude: Thank you so much, Julie. And thank you, Jennifer and Liza for joining me today as one of our alumni. You are just so amazing. And I'm really excited for all the counselors.

And any of the educators on today's webinar to be able to just hear more from you about entrepreneurship as a post secondary pathway. Um, and I'm also going to be sharing some of my experiences. I've had the privilege over the past 3 years of regional director. Of network for teaching entrepreneurship, New England to be able to work with thousands of youth entrepreneurs who are either thinking about entrepreneurship as their post secondary pathway or are incorporating the entrepreneurial mindset into what they are doing, um, as their next steps as they're thinking about transitioning from high school.

And so, uh, again, it'll be me and Liza here today for the conversation and then in the next slide, I'll be able to tell you all a little bit about the webinar. So, again, I know that you all probably get some things from the title, um, but the participants will hear student stories and learn about resources and recommendations geared towards supporting students who want to start their own business or to incorporate the entrepreneurial mindset.

Into their steps of success. Some of our students are going to go out and they're going to just do really amazing vibrant things in the workforce, but we cannot discount or leave out those students who are also going to be able to create and drive the workforce for some of those opportunities as well.

And so just really quickly for our agenda so that people know what they're getting into. Um, we're already went through our introductions. You're going to learn a little bit about what is network for teaching entrepreneurship. We're a 36 year old, um, organization and we bring a lot of historical value and knowledge into our work.

Um, and then the conversation between Liza and I will kick off, which is definitely going to be one of the best parts, and then we'll save time at the end for some questions or Q& A, which that function, I believe, um, Julie pointed out is available inside of that. Inside of the Zoom plan. So just to kick us off, um, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

We are a global educational nonprofit. Um, we started about 36 to 37 years ago, um, where the founder was really interested in how do we activate skills that we know that youth already have or already come with and empower them to be able to own their futures. And so as you see here on the slide, our vision is to ignite the entrepreneurial mindset.

With unique learning experiences that empower students to own their futures. And so as we go into the webinar a little bit more, I'll be able to share with you all what is an entrepreneurial mindset and what does that mean for our students and what can that mean for your students. Um, our vision is that every person will own their future and our purpose is to lead the global movement for equitable access to entrepreneurship education.

So we have served since 1987 about 1. 3 million students. Um, we serve about 45, 000 students every year globally, and now you'll be able to see in a few slides sort of what our footprint looks like. Um, we offer 10 really awesome programs that are an incorporation of curriculum, volunteer engagement, and we're really And also, um, wraparound supports for teachers and students to really be able to think about, um, and infuse their classrooms with entrepreneurial concepts, the entrepreneurial mindset and career readiness skills.

Nifty can be found in high schools, middle schools, summer camp programs, post secondary institutions, and community based organizations. Um, and we serve usually youth around ages 11 going on into 24, but even beyond because we have a very robust alumni community that stays involved, um, as they continue to go out through their, whatever their steps are, however, wherever they are in their journey.

As they're completing their nifty program. So this slide here shows you some of our locations in the us. Anything that's highlighted in the dark purple, um, or the darkest shades, um, is one, is where we're currently located. But I know that even like for New England, like we now have a partner ship in New Hampshire, and so we are continuing to expand.

And this slide here shows our global reach. Um, when our, when your youth join or when youth join the NFTY program, and when, um, teachers join and schools join our NFTY program, they're not only connecting with a network that is here in the U. S., it reaches beyond those boundaries.

This slide here just shows a few of our program partners, shout out to them, who are already working with us to really be able to help to activate and nurture that entrepreneurial mindset in youth.

And one thing I'll say about our partners is that we're always looking for more partners, and we're always looking for more ways to be able to work with and create and drive impact for our youth. And so this slide here is one of my favorite pieces of NFTY, and it is the entrepreneurial mindset. And these different eight elements here as our approach to infusing the skills that youth are able to practice and activate through a project based learning environment within their classrooms are out of school time programs where.

It threaded throughout our nifty lessons and units are these entrepreneurial mindsets. So our organization is extremely intentional about making sure that youth are practicing this mindset that prepares young people for success through life. And one thing that you'll notice about a lot of these mindset is that their skills.

Um, some people call them soft skills. I like to refer to them and have heard them referred to as power skills, because these are skills that we all use every day that help to contribute to our success, like flexibility and adaptability, communication and collaboration, and opportunity recognition. And as youth are working on these skills and flexing these, this entrepreneurial mindset in their classrooms and in their out of school time programs.

When using our nifty programs or using other entrepreneurial programs that your schools or districts might have, they are practicing skills that they're going to be able to use and really it's going to help to prepare them for the rest of it. And so my favorite, my favorite is communication and collaboration.

All of our youth take what's called an entrepreneurial mindset index. Which helps them to identify what are their more stronger entrepreneurial mindset domains and what are some entrepreneurial mindset domains that might be a little challenging to them that they can continue to work on.

And so jumping in a little bit more into our topic today and transitioning away from necessarily what is NIFTY but sort of why do we do the work that we do. Um, it continues to evolve and we continue to find. That youth are still really, really intrigued and excited and motivated by this idea of entrepreneurship.

Definitely, as we think about COVID and the impact that that had, um, there was definitely a lot of negative things, but one of the things that we've been able to sort of learn more about is that Gen Z, or the youth who are in our schools today, They're very interested in entrepreneurship and how they can approach the different problems and challenges that they face from a problem from a solution oriented lens, um, and doing that and do our programs were able to watch you take things that are important to them, their communities, their families and solve challenges that are impacting them through these entrepreneurial ideas and ventures.

And so some really cool data facts is that 45 percent of Gen Z reports being very likely or extremely likely to start their own business one day. And the number of college students majoring in entrepreneurship, like Liza, who was on the webinar with us here today, rose 7. 3%, even though college enrollments fell.

We know that we're starting to see more of a trend of youth getting back into college and thinking more about. Um, how can college be a beneficial component on their pathway? However, we see now that even as youth are doing that the the the rise in the interest in entrepreneurship is there So this webinar is sort of just on time because we are helping To start have you all start thinking and starting the conversation around how do we support youth and something that is growing an interest to them.

The future of work is entrepreneurial. That is a fact. 90 percent of employers identify entrepreneurial skills as very important. So, when you go back to slide to those entrepreneurial mindset domains, those are the skills that they see as important. 65 percent of the jobs youth entering school today will do do not exist yet, and that is one of the facts and one of my favorite facts because I think that it shows that there is just so much room for innovation.

Sometimes we we see the things that we use every day and our favorite products and we go to our favorite stores and we're using our favorite app so we don't think about that there were youth who are sitting in our classrooms today, but we're going to help to either be able to enhance what's already there.

And if every entrepreneurial fashion or be able to create something new in an extremely entrepreneurial fashion, I would also say that one in three U. S. Employers want to hire people with entrepreneurial experience. So the experience that are you, they're getting inside of our nifty classrooms, the different internships and workforce development agencies across the state that are thinking really creatively about how do we connect students through workforce development.

To entrepreneurial experiences are really creating and helping to meet this demand. And then also some other really cool fun facts is by 2027, which is not far away at all. 50 percent of us workforce will be freelancers. Some of those might be some of your students. And 20 percent of those freelancers are earning a six figure salary or more.

So the entrepreneurial pathway is not only a pathway where youth can be able to really think about, um, achieving economic. Advancement for themselves and their families. That's also going to be a pathway that continues to grow and become more competitive. So how do we support our students? And success to do so.

And so as we think about the entrepreneurial experience and thinking about what our youth are thinking as they're planning their next steps out of high school, I want you all to stop and think really quickly. Um, and I know that the chat is disabled, so you don't have to necessarily put it in the chat, but this is a thought that I want you to carry with you.

Is think about a job that exists now that did not exist 15 years ago and think of a job that may exist in the next 15 years. That does not now and that will really help to frame your mind around when your students are coming to you and they're saying, I want to start my own business, helping them to really understand that this is a real possibility because the world in society is ripe for new opportunities and for innovation.

And so when we think about entrepreneurship as a pathway, I think that it's important that we highlight that definitely, definitely entrepreneurship can be a pathway directly to college. But some of the youth you may be talking to may be interested in entering into the pathways in different ways. And so when we think about these pathways, we wanted to ensure to highlight That is important to think about it in, um, in a way where we are helping students regardless of where they are and meeting students where they are and being able to think about how do we push them forward, um, regardless of what they want their pathway to look like.

So some students might go to college for entrepreneurship. They might apply and we'll hear more from Liza. She's in the picture over to the right with my esteemed colleague, Jen, and some other really awesome students, um, who. Was doing some entrepreneurial workshops with us out in chickpea a few summers ago.

Um, and some of them might enter entrepreneurship directly through the workforce. Um, they might want to leave high school and go to work. And at the same time, they might be thinking about how do they start their own business. Or for the next bullet, some of them might start their own business going straight out of high school or might have a business that is actually operating while they're in high school and they're thinking about continuing to pursue that.

This conversation is going to also help to give recommendations to the educators on today's webinar about regardless of how, where they land, college workforce, entrepreneurship. Or doing both maybe they're going to go to college and they're going to pursue their business, which is something that we've seen from our nifty alumni.

Um, we find that there are ways to support them all. And there are some common recommendations that regardless of where they're going to land, that there's really great ways to be able to, um, help them along that path. And so you, sorry about that. So if you see a quote here, this is Jennifer La Sala, I'm going to go ahead and put that in the chat.

So Jennifer La Sala, I'm going to go ahead and put that in the chat. I'm going to go ahead and put that in the chat. Her story is featured on our nifty website. She is a New England native, um, and her story is she actually owns an allergy free bakery called Jennifer Lee's Gourmet Bakery, um, and she is just outstanding.

Her story is there. I can put a link, um, or share a link with Julie and Jennifer after. For you all to just hear more from her, but she discovered her passion for entrepreneurship within her nifty class. But really, she went to college and she, um, to Johnson and Wales, and she was able to really just overcome a lot of different challenges that led her to starting her own bakery.

She's opened up multiple locations now. She's even won Massachusetts Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is able to hire family and friends and create opportunities amongst her community, um, to be able to continue to run and thrive, um, through her business and her passion for baking and for, um, helping others with severe food allergies.

And so I'll, I won't give it all away. I'll let Jennifer tell her story by sharing the link later, but please follow up and figure out ways to be able to continue to collect artifacts. Um, and stories like the one that you'll hear next, um, from Liza about just some recommendations on how do we support our youth, regardless of how they're going to walk their pathway, if they're thinking about entrepreneurship as being their destination, how can we support them?

And then just my recommendations, and Liza will share some recommendations specifically for the counselors and educators on the call, but these are just some recommendations that I think, Um, and that nifty and the rest of the organizations and teachers and students that we've worked with and that I've worked with over the past three years that I've seen have been really, really important for helping to develop youth entrepreneurs on that pathway.

The first I would say is skills. Um, for my first recommendation, I believe that students should engage in exploring entrepreneurial topics and knowledge. You may not have a partner at your school like NIFTY or some of the other, um, entrepreneurial programs or partners. However, there are some really awesome ways that students can be able to engage in resources.

Some free resources that you can find on our NIFTY website is like a Lean Canvas, which is almost like a one pager business plan that students can build over time as they start to think about their businesses. Um, business plan competitions. There also might be some local in your community. Or now the virtual world has made it possible to where there's lots online, um, and then other programs that really help students to start thinking entrepreneurially or starting to exercise their ideation muscles where they're thinking of, um, ways to be able to solve challenges.

The mindset we went over the entrepreneurial mindset just briefly in the earlier slides, but the entrepreneurial mindset is something that is super valuable for students because it can help them to develop transferable skills. That regardless of if they're going to college, if they're going straight to be an entrepreneur or going into the workforce, these entrepreneurial skills can help them to really be able to develop this mindset that's not only going to be attractive to employers, but help to ensure their longevity as they're working through their own pathways.

And then next, I would say network, network, network. Liza's gonna, um, talk a little bit later about what networking was like for her and sort of how she was able to utilize her community. But I think it's important that regardless of what youth want to do or how they want to do it, for them to build and utilize a diverse network of supporters, coaches, and mentors.

Which I know that a lot of you on today's webinar are already a part of that village. How do we figure out who else? Who else within our networks or who else should our youth want to have in their networks and how do we help them to bridge that gap from them figuring out where mentors are and how to contact them to actually being in contact with them and being able to and starting to develop a relationship with them to where they're able to really.

Um, acknowledge and understand what it means and what the benefits of having a network who is supportive of you and who can build connections and opportunities for you and how that can help them to push forward. And then certifications. It's important that students are able to build up their resumes and other things that are going to help them to sustain themselves as they build out their entrepreneurial ideas.

And being able to prove to, um, their stakeholders and different individuals who might be invested into what they're developing that they're really serious, but then also, um, have a certain level of understanding about the work that they're doing. And so there is a certification called the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Certificate.

That is offered through, um, Certiport and Pearson, and that certificate helps to be able to give students a industry recognized credential that, um, really helps to ground them in the entrepreneurial concepts of small business. Um, framework so that students are able to say, like, yes, I know this. Yes, I can do this, um, and that they also feel really confident in themselves having that certificate and being able to show that to either employers or colleges or individuals as they're networking with them about their business or business idea.

So I am going to stop sharing now, and we are going to move on to a really exciting piece of this webinar, and I'm going to introduce Well, I'm going to actually pass it to Liza to introduce herself. Um, and then we'll kick into, kick off into our conversation. Sounds good, Liza?

Laysa Mourao: Yep. Sounds great. Thank you so much, Adama, for, for the intro and giving us, you know, an amazing overview of, I think all the great things that NFTY does.

And Um, I, you know, the recommendations also, I think, super important. We'll touch a little bit more on some recommendations towards the end, but just to give a little bit of an intro, my name is Liza and, um, I am a, you know, I went through one of the courses that Adama mentioned and then continued working with, you know, various programs and workshops and, and summer programs.

And, you know, now I'm, I'm a sophomore at Brown where I'm studying business economics and then also entrepreneurship. So, you know, just a little bit about me. But, you know, I know I'm excited for the good conversation that we're going to have,

Adanma Ude: Adela. Awesome, Liza. Thank you so much for that. And I'm, as we kick off into this conversation, and it's going to be a conversation because I'm going to ask Liza a series of questions.

And Liza is actually going to take the turn and she's going to ask me a series of questions. And the reason why we did it that way was we were really thinking about our audience. And we know that the call is full of educators. Who are really hungry for this information about how do they support students.

And so we wanted to give it from an alumni or a student perspective. And then we wanted to also think about it from an administrative perspective. So you'll, you all will be able to learn a little bit about how I work with teachers and how we work with youth to be able to support youth entrepreneurs as well.

Um, but to kick us off and to jump right in, I'd love for you, Liza, to take us back a few years, I know that it might feel like a lifetime, but now, to your senior year in high school, what was it like deciding to go to Brown? What was it like deciding to go to college?

Laysa Mourao: Yeah, no, definitely. Um, and you know, Adama, you are a huge, huge part of that process as well.

I can remember, you know, first opening that acceptance letter and this kind of, you know, shock and excitement for a few days and sharing the news, you know, with my support network. And, um, you know, that after this initial just like, wow, you know, the That this feeling, I think, you know, eventually it kind of settles in.

And then I started thinking about, you know, you know, this is awesome news. And I think it's a really great problem to have that, you know, deciding, you know, I have all these awesome, you know, colleges to choose from just thinking about, you know, which one really would be the best fit for me. So I think one of the, the first things that I did is just.

You know, pinpointing what I wanted out of my college experience and a huge piece of that is tapping into that network that, um, Adama, you were talking about talking to my mentors right at the time, you know, but also be Jen who you all saw in that that picture and on that slide and. You know what their thoughts are, you know what they know about different schools at the time.

I was also considering, you know, Babson college. There's a huge focus on entrepreneurship and, you know, close to home as well. So that would have been, you know, a really, really nice way for things to have worked out. And, you know, also talking to alumni of the school and that was a big help. And, you know, a lot of these, I think, you know, tapping into my network entails really just getting on LinkedIn and, you know, sending random messages, right?

Or, you know, just sending random emails to the schools and being like, hey. I have a couple of questions. I'm wondering, you know, if anyone can talk to me. So I think that was a really big piece in building my network and just being curious, you know, and, um, ultimately I think it, it, you know, I, I chose Brown because of this big commitment to entrepreneurship.

Across different disciplines and geographies for this. I think there were three main reasons that really solidified Brown for me. The first is the Center for Entrepreneurship here that, you know, it provides seed money from 200 all the way to 25, 000. Right? So that I think was an amazing thing to see through pitch competitions, which I've been a part of here over the past two years.

And you know, this certificate in entrepreneurship, which is sort of like a minor. Um, but it provides, I think, a really practical field of study in entrepreneurship, and also, you know, a lot of partnerships with local organizations, right? Um, and I think along those lines as well, just access to a really flexible education.

Brown, I think, is well known for having its open curriculum, and that's where, you know, I think I have the privilege of being an economics major, for example, and taking Latin American studies, right? Which is, I think, very, very different. But it's a place, you know, to really just explore, um, different interests that don't seem so, um, directly aligned.

And the third would have just been just, you know, the distance, I think, from home. I'm also, you know, from, from Massachusetts, so I'm from a city called Framingham. Not sure if people on here know, but Brown, I think, is kind of that sweet spot, you know, where it's close enough so that I can visit home, you know, quite often, but also far enough so I feel like it was a new challenge and this, you know, new space to explore.

But I think throughout all of this, you know, the excitement of making that commitment to Brown really, I think, was just a culmination of all the great conversations I was having with, you know, these amazing mentors and, you know, alumni and my family and thinking about, you know, where would be the best

Adanma Ude: place for me.

I love that, Liza, because what I'm hearing is one that you suit, like you definitely flex your entrepreneurial mindset when it came to just like communication, collaboration, and also like comfort with risk, because you're like, I have this one option that's really close to home. Then I have this other option that's a little bit different.

And I love that the question that you asked yourself was what did you want? Out of your college experience, because then you're able to also inform your network as you're guiding with them when they're like, Oh, well, maybe there's this thing you're like, Oh, but I really actually love this thing about Brown and that ultimately helped you to make your decision.

So utilizing your network doing your research, or putting on your entrepreneurial hat sounds like what really helped you to think about how to make that decision and I think that That piece is important for us to really start from because counselors and educators who are on the call are working with the Liza's who were, you know, just a few years ago in that space where maybe there were students who have abundance of opportunity like yourself, and maybe there were also students who are like.

I don't even know what my opportunities are. How do I figure that out next? And maybe one of the questions that counselors can ask is the one that you pose is like, well, what do you want out of your experience after you leave high school, which I think is super, super, um, relevant and it allows the student to be able to bring their voice and their wants into what their plans are going to be because like, you know, there's so much noise about like what you should do or how you should do it or where you should go, um, that when you actually have Yeah.

Rounded yourself on what you want and it helped you to be able to navigate those different journeys.

Laysa Mourao: Exactly. I just want to add to, I think sometimes, you know, being a student, I remember talking right to different teachers and, and, you know, having that question, you know, what do you want out of a college experience?

And sometimes I think it's maybe easier to even, you know, verbalize what you're not looking for. And that, you know, kind of narrows it down. So that could also be helpful for, you know, just mentors in general, trying to guide what, you know, youth might want to do. I remember. Kind of having this idea of, you know, it wasn't super solidified, but the more I talked to people that had been in my shoes, you know, before, you know, understood what was important about a college experience, it really helped guide, um, and, you know, solidify my opinions as well.

So I don't think it's quite set in stone, but I think the more that, you know, research is done, more, more, you know, conversations are being had around, you know, the opportunities that are available. It becomes more clear what, what the student

Adanma Ude: would want. That's huge. So not only what you do want, but if you don't know what you do want, usually people know what they don't want, right?

Like, I don't know exactly, but like, I'm not going to get this because I know I don't like that. Right. And so it's like, and that usually, usually will help people narrow down their options. I think that that's. That's a great, great question and something, an artifact that the counselors can really pick up from today's conversation.

So awesome. Um, moving into our second question, can you share more with us about your introduction to entrepreneurship? Because as we're on this webinar, we're really tapping in with counselors who are like my, you know, awesome. A junior and my or a senior and my school came to me and said that they actually want to start their own business.

What do I do next? So I really want to hear about like what, um, what was your introduction to entrepreneurship and how did you decide that that was what you wanted to pursue after high school? Yeah, definitely.

Laysa Mourao: So it was I think the first time that I really understood what entrepreneurship was in a course offered by NFT.

So at my school was a year long course offered. I took it my sophomore year, and it was very funny because I can remember in the first, you know, couple months of the course, not even remembering how to spell entrepreneurship because it was so new to me. So we would always be in class and thinking about it.

And we're like, Is there a T as in R? So because it was just, you know, not Talked about as much at the time. Um, but that was my really first. My introduction was this course that, um, culminated right in the end in this business plan or business pitch and students created a business, which could choose to put that forward in a regional and national competition.

And so, um, I think that throughout this course is really where. The world kind of opened up to me in the form of all these new opportunities because I felt that I had, you know, all the different interests, whether it was it was sports or school, you know, whatever it is, but entrepreneurship seemed like this lens that I could really apply to any environment or any field of work, right?

Thinking about economics, right? Or even, um, you know, computer science, whatever it is. It's, you know, something that you can take and apply in any field of work or study. And throughout this course, I really just loved hearing from other entrepreneurs, you know, collaborating, putting together business plans, getting coaching, and just feeling this kind of sense of collaboration.

Um, you know, the risk taking of it. Innovation. I think that was was great. Um, I don't know if you remember, but around I believe it was the end of the course was the in the beginning of the calendar year of 2020, which was around Mars 2020. Right? Um, when the pandemics, I think, officially shut things down.

And so I think that was a point where I was really, you know, kind of forced to make a decision on whether I wanted this course to just kind of be a course, right, that in the midst of, you know, all this chaos, just kind of, you know, let it go and, and the, you know, a little bit of the, the confusion of like asynchronous school and online school and, you know, how do we organize all these things.

So at that point, I think really was when I chose to. Um, continuing, you know, despite all these unknowns, still pursue the business plan and the business pitch, which, you know, ended up going super well because I placed regionally in New England and that was, I think, a super new experience. And I definitely would not have pushed myself if it wasn't for, you know, Jen and the rest of the NFU team that were on there cheering for me.

And helping me out, you know, through the different, you know, new and experiences that we really couldn't have predicted at that point. Um, but yeah, I think it really was just kind of faced with the decision, right? If you want to keep going, it's going to be a little bit tougher, but you know, looking back so much more rewarding

Adanma Ude: as well.

That's so awesome, Liza. I just remember so much of your journey during that time and um, like my introduction to you was like, you were like, I want to start this entrepreneurship club like at my high school. Um, and then, and you reached out to Jenny. It was like, Can you share feedback on these thoughts?

And it's just like, it was just the way that you were approaching, like what you were doing in school and the way you networked amongst us. Like you were just so entrepreneurial, um, and just like really brought that mindset into everything that you did. And I loved it that whether you were our summer fellow, right.

Cause Liza was, um, able to do a fellowship program with us over the summer or whether she was a nifty student at the time, or even now as alumni. Um, she just really does a great job at, um, picking on her network and knowing how and she said random, but it's not random. Her outreach is not random. It's extremely intentional.

Um, and she's looking for feedback from people who she knows, um, has some sort of understanding or expertise or opinion about something that she's doing. And so. Leading into our third question, I would love to hear a little bit more about, um, who were your mentors or influencers during this time? Um, and can you explain how those relationships have impacted your journey?

Yeah, I think something that

Laysa Mourao: we, you know, touched briefly on has been a little bit of my experience with NFTY, right? I started my, my journey as a student in the course. And then I think really a beautiful, you know, full circle experience where I worked as a summer fellow. And then from being a summer fellow, you know, I think really getting really, you know, intimately mentored and getting advising from both Adama.

And Jen, who I think I've mentioned quite a few times and maybe she'll be able to, you know, join on some other webinar, but it was just an amazing experience because I went from being a student to, you know, part of the team and then towards, you know, the last couple of summers that I have. I worked with NIFTY is creating another program, right, so using those entrepreneurial skills I had learned with NIFTY to create new programming, right, for other students to also get a similar experience to what I received in working with NIFTY, so I think that influence of just, you know, opening up to the world, right, and seeing these new opportunities and realizing that, you know, these programs are offered and they're great, but even in being able to think, like, You know, if there is a need that's being, you know, that's not being met quite yet, we have the, you know, like, um, flexibility to create something new, right?

And I think that, that opportunity, that space and, um, that freedom to just, you know, innovate, I think that is something that was really important coming from. You know, my advisors with Nifty and my family as well. I remember sitting at the dinner table, right, and getting super interesting ideas just from my family, just throwing around, you know, ideas, you know, mentioning the projects I was working on.

You know, those kind of silly moments that, that you hear a lot of great things as well. So I think both formal, you know, mentorship and also informal, just, you know, relational

Adanma Ude: advice. Yeah. I know for many entrepreneurs, they say that their friends and their family and community are their first customers.

And so exactly. Absolutely. Like those are great mentors and influencers. And then you also mentioned myself and Jen, and I know that early in the conversation, you mentioned just like teachers and other educators around you, um, that you were really able to lean on during this time to help make this decision.

And so I think that when we think about like takeaways for the educators on the call, one of the huge ones is like Push your students to think differently about their network, right? Like maybe you are just sitting around having dinner, but maybe now this is also like a mini or micro like business planning meeting where you're like getting, um, if, if anyone at that table is a part of your target market, right?

How are you asking them things about your product that might be of interest to you for later on? And that's just something that I know that entrepreneurs do, um, in very formal, but also informal ways. And it just sounds like you were really taking that mindset, not only on your business idea at the time, which was an amazing business.

idea guard. And sometimes I see them and I'm like, that's why, but then also, um, they using that and applying that same concept that you had to use when you were developing your prototype or when you were going through coaching for your business idea. So now like I have this life idea where like, I'm thinking about entrepreneurship as a post secondary pathway, like.

Give me advice, right? And or or like support me in this way. Or what do you think about this? Or this is not what I want. Do you think that that's going to align with the experience that I'm going to get? And all those things are really powerful. Um, wow, time is moving. I just did a time check for myself.

And I'm like, Oh, it's always moving when you're having fun, right? Um, so we have a few more questions, then we'll do a quick fun rapid fire round. But the next one is, um, now that you are in your Sophomore year of college. I would love to hear two things. Um, well, a few things. First, I would love to hear three things that you've learned now that you're in your sophomore year, but I'll also couple that with the other question of, are you pursuing any kind of entrepreneurial ventures?

And you don't have to join those together, but for some reason, I feel like they're going to all tie in. Um, but yeah,

Laysa Mourao: definitely. So, um, I think really exciting Throughout my last two years that at Brown, I've always been involved, you know, entrepreneurial ventures and in some way, right? I've done a couple of pitch competitions before individually and in a group setting and so this semester, I'm really excited because I'm in a quarters in a class where I'm actually building a business plan with a group.

And so this is for a class credit, which I think is really exciting. That's one of the ways I've been involved entrepreneurship recently. Um, and, and we're kind of working with our target market as college students. Thanks. Bye. Right. I think for, you know, the, I think mentors and educators who are on here and counselors, if you have students that, you know, are trying to start an idea or even want to build a prototype, for example, maybe you don't have the specific knowledge to be able to, you know, help the student create a prototype, but I think even connecting them with someone Bye.

Who might know someone who might know something, you know, I think that piece is super important and even working with researchers that are available. So I'm, you know, doing a business that has college students as the target market because, you know, they're easily available for me to do research and things like that.

So, um, I think that's, that's been it. My entrepreneurial venture of the season, um, but I'm also working with a student run venture capital group. So I actually, you know, fund entrepreneurs. So working a little bit on, on both sides of the table. And I think from these two really exciting experiences, um, one of my main takeaways has really been just to see how important it is to, you know, throw yourself into new environments, right?

Not be afraid to adapt. That was kind of my transition into college. And I think that, you know, every, every day, every. You know, week that, that passes by, I see more and more that, you know, Hey, that session that I, you know, I attended a webinar like this one, for example, you always take something away. It's, you know, a new connection that you make that, you know, I think will be super useful down the line.

And, um, I think for, for those who are in the webinar right now, or who will be watching later, feel free to contact me questions, connect me with your students. I'd be more than happy to talk through, you know, whatever questions or just, you know, be a listening ear. Um, for, for your students. I think, you know, that going that extra mile really does count.

I think that'd be my main takeaway from all these experiences, you know, in the last, last couple of years.

Adanma Ude: I love that so much, Liza, because I remember your nerves about like, like, you're really close with your family. And so yeah, into a new environment, even though it was a sweet spot of being like away from home, but not too close to home, it was still really important for you to just be a part of a community.

And it sounds like you've really been able to achieve that as you have navigated your way through your sophomore year. So just congratulations to you as being someone who has watched you grow so so much. And do so many great things. I don't know anything about like investing in other or operating, you know, a venture fund.

Um, but like you're doing those amazing entrepreneurial things. Um, and I just think that it just continues to grow and show and prove the point that we're showing here today that like, This pathway, um, through entrepreneurship for students can be one that's not only, um, lucrative, but exciting and fun, right?

Like you saying, throwing yourself into new environments, meeting new things, learning new people, networking, um, and developing life long lasting relationships that can really help to influence an individual in their output. So, it's awesome. Cool. So we'll have some fun in our rapid fire round and then I'll pass you the mic.

And, um, Oh, actually, no, I'm skipping like one of the most important pieces here. And that is for you to give us some recommendations for the educators on today's webinar for supporting you who are interested in entrepreneurship as a post secondary pathway. And I'm actually going to share my screen because Liza pulled together some slides as a resource for all of the counselors on the call.

And, you know, you all can like screenshot and take pictures, but I'm sure that Julie and Jennifer will also share this out. Afterwards, just bear with me one second here, and there we go.

Laysa Mourao: Great. Yeah. So these are some recommendations that I wanted to just specifically detail, um, for helping stimulate entrepreneurship throughout high school.

Right. So, um, I won't read completely off the slide. I think that, you know, it'd be helpful for you all to look with, with more detail, but, you know, big things. I think our students, they, they have, you know, energy and, and passion. So just helping to funnel that into the right spot and encouraging students to explore their interests and passions early on.

You know, regardless of how silly it might feel, sometimes students think that they're caring too much about something and just solidifying that and giving confidence that, you know, they should, you know, it's good to think creatively and to try to, you know, create a new solution and solve a problem that Might not have the best solution just yet.

Um, and doing that, you know, through collaborating with others or, you know, seeking out other, um, entrepreneurs, other connections, right? Just tapping into a network and I think ever, you know, expanding that network as well. Um, as counselors, you, you know, have a really significant role in the lives of young people because.

You can, you know, I can be the person that I really pushes a student into, you know, trying something that they wouldn't have otherwise done. And that can make all the difference for them. I know for me, Nifty was definitely that change maker and that that catalyst. Um, and so the last two bullet points, just thinking about how to provide access to different resources, whether it's a program, you know, Like nifty or different workshops or clubs or competitions.

I think, you know, online there's so many different events that are available in an open to for people to register and join. So that can be a super awesome opportunities. And then also just thinking about how students can seek mentorship, you know, with professionals that are in fields that they have interest.

And I think people are definitely interested in, you know, passing on some of the lessons that they've learned. And so making those connections. I think it's also one of, um, a really important role in being, you know, this, this advisor figure in a student's life. And, you know, these are just some lessons for, um, students throughout high school.

I think we have some, some things also for, you know, looking at entrepreneurship post high school. And that, that would be the next, um, slide, Adama. Just, you know, a couple other lessons. And these are a little bit more detailed, but, you know, not all students are thinking about college. Some students might want to go into entrepreneurship directly.

And so I'm just thinking about the best opportunity and, you know, is it viable and how students will continue to explore that whether through different incubators, um, you know, or pitch competitions to have access to, um, you know, that seed money. Irfan is college thinking a little bit about. How I, you know, narrowed it down and solidified my choices at Brown is what students are looking for and how that school's, um, you know, geography, you know, opportunities, curriculum will all support the entrepreneurial environment that student is looking for.

And I would definitely encourage taking a second, you know, to look at these a little bit more in depth. I wish we had time, right, to talk about it, um, in more detail, but these are just a few, you know, things that come to mind when I'm thinking about, um, you know, tips for

Adanma Ude: counselors. And the one thing that I loved about your tips, Liza, is that, um, this, the, the steps or the tips that are for the students.

Um, and so I think that students who are thinking about other than college can absolutely still work for the students who are thinking about, of course, so discussing how much time the student intends to devote to their venture and also search for incubator accelerators like students who are in college sometimes do those same exact things, and they'll be able to meet that common ground with some of their peers who maybe or maybe not be in college as well.

So I just love these recommendations. I absolutely encourage all of the counselors here to either reach out to Liza and I or to really read through these because they're really concrete and helpful. Um, and we talked about a lot of these already throughout the conversation. So some of them, I also feel a little redundant.

Also, excuse me. So I'll stop sharing again. Um, and I'll pass you the mic, Liza. Um, and also in about like five minutes on those questions, and then we can turn it over to, um, for a little bit of Q and A. Yeah.

Laysa Mourao: So, um, Adon, you have a super interesting and also important role, right? As, as an educator, regional director.

So, you know, you talked a little bit about. What your, your role with NFTY has been, but just I think it might be helpful for the counselors to hear what your day to day with NFTY looks like and which, which days are, are your, do you love the most, right? Thinking about all that you do, what kind of work do you really look forward to doing throughout the year?

Adanma Ude: Absolutely. So, um, one of my main, um, goals as regional director is to help to be able to create this amazing experience for more youth. Um, and that's a fun job, right? Because I am out working with educators, school districts, school leaders, um, community leaders and community based organizations to be able to bridge together exactly what you said.

What is the need? What do they have as a need for their community and their students? And how can nifty help that? Um, and sometimes it's through full year programs like yours. Sometimes it's semester based programs. Sometimes we're working with them through the summer, or sometimes it's workshops are different ways that we're able to engage and support activating this entrepreneurial mindset.

And my day to day, I get the privilege of working with Jennifer Green, but I have to shout her out. She is an outstanding, outstanding educator and, um, and a supporter of youth entrepreneurs. She has worked at Network for Teacher Entrepreneurship for going 15 years. Um, so she has just a tenure that really brings a wealth of historical knowledge, but then an eye for innovation because we are an entrepreneur, we are an educational nonprofit, but we are All in this organization.

Extremely entrepreneurial. So Herman, I are able to continue to innovate and create new experiences like the one that we created with you, Liza, and that you led the charge on, um, workforce development programs for, um, young adults all throughout Massachusetts. And so we're really excited. Um, and I'm really excited to be able to continue a lot of that work.

And, um, my best days are what we call our gas. Gas station days. This is when Jen and I feel like when our tank is empty, we go to fill it up. And it's usually, I would say when I'm with students and volunteers at the same time during our coaching sessions. It's beautiful to be able to see the mix of young adults or youth or students who are Yeah.

Just really excited and right for connection and knowledge and then adults who have gone through these experiences and regardless of where they are in their career, taking time out of their day to coming in fact. So for me, those are like the beautiful pieces of our program and it really creates this well rounded impact of our program where they're not only like thinking of these ideas, but they're able to sort of test them with professionals who bring a certain level of lived and professional experience to help support.

Yeah, no,

Laysa Mourao: that's, that's great. I think you touched on a few things are all the different programming that nifty offers. And then the, you know, the beauty and after all this behind the scenes work right that that you do, you get to go in person and work with students and see that collaboration right coming, coming to life, which I think is one of the best parts of being in an entrepreneurial environment is getting to work with people right and hear their different ideas and kind of, you know, the brainstorming behind it.

So that's awesome. And you know, I think in addition to the mentoring right in the coaching the students receive, what do you think are the most significant opportunities that Nifty has offered for for its

Adanma Ude: active students? I think one is that we partner with spaces where they already are. I feel like them not needing to take NIFTY as like, um, and for some youth, like NIFTY is their internship or their summer job.

But that's a whole other piece that I could talk more about if anybody wants to learn about it. Um, but for a lot of youth, right, NIFTY is happening in their classroom. So like the, they're going to like go to period one, but they're going to be able to really think differently about like, how do I. I like students can really actually come up with a real and I nifty youth and alumni do all the time.

Um, I think that it's 25. We like one in four nifty alumni are likely to start a business, which is a lot than the average. And I think it's because they're being able to activate these entrepreneurial ideas and flex it in a space that might be a little bit safer than like I'm trying to start my business after school and like.

So nobody really understands because I'm spending all my time doing this one thing instead of like getting an after school job or babysitting or, you know, or being, you know, playing a sport or whatever it is, they might be investing in their entrepreneurial idea, they're able to kind of do that within the safety or So, you know, Of a classroom in the support of a camera 11 teacher educator who is committed to this.

Um, we train our educators. We train our teachers. We provide them all the support and, um, and so it's not something that even for the teacher or educated are out there alone. So for me, though, the one piece is that, like, we sort of are able to ingrain and infuse in spaces where students already are but The other piece for me is the mentorship and volunteering, which I know we already said that one, but I think that that one's a huge piece of it is that, um, the, them being able to like practice what it means to network, um, and really being able to connect with, um, professionals who are able to, uh, show them not only that, like, you have this great idea and I believe in it, but also that, like, I believe in you and like, what's your next steps, what's your journey and who, and who they are as a whole person.

Laysa Mourao: Right, no, that's, that's totally, totally right. I, you know, couldn't agree more. I think hearing, right, from people who have the experience, getting a bit of an outside point of view, right, is super helpful. And Adama, I wish we could, you know, stay on for so much longer. There's so many questions that I want to ask, and I, you know, keeping the conversation going, but I do want to close out, I think, our, you know, conversation with just hearing from you throughout these, you know, different, Entrepreneurial experiences in your education endeavors.

What do you think are, you know, most health practices that you've seen from teachers, counselors and influential adults to best help their students learn entrepreneurship and really feel supported to, you know, go after their, their entrepreneurial

Adanma Ude: endeavors? Absolutely. I think it's about developing their relationship with students to be able to hear what it is that they want to do.

I think that listening is one of the best. First tools that we can use is like our ears, right? Um, or, um, and how do we help them do what you did, Liza, which is like, what do I want? What do I not want? And what does that mean? And I feel like the counselors on the call have so many tools and resources that help students to do that.

And entrepreneurship is one where they can still use those tools, right? It just might be a different concept or a different conversation. And because a student who might want to start a sleepguard business is going to need totally different supports than a student who might want to start an app based tech business, right?

Right. What does that mean about your network and who you are, right? You might not have anyone in your network who can do those things. But then also, how do we model for our students what success looks like, right? Like maybe you could be like, I don't know anyone, but let me ask this question. And you also couple that with like, Hey student, ask this question to this person, and you are starting the steps of like, what does it mean to network and do research and using a lot of the entrepreneurial muscles that we discussed in today's webinar, so.

Yeah, I think it's about like listening and connecting and developing that relationship so that we can help them to undercover or to uncover what the possibilities really are. Oh, well,

Julie Shields-Rutyna: we are we are coming up on time, I will just first I'll just ask in the audience. Are there any. Are there any questions that are burning that you would like to ask while we have a diamond Liza here, and I'll just quickly ask.

Um, for each of you, I'll ask you if you just give maybe one example of, you know how you seek out other entrepreneurs and how those conversations go, you know, or if you can even think of one example, a recent example of how you've sought someone out and how you. Began to talk and

Laysa Mourao: work together. Yeah, definitely.

I think, um, LinkedIn has definitely been, I think, a big tool to reach out to people and be able to see, you know, I'm not, I'm not familiar with, you know, who this person is, but even being able to see, like, I have, you know, one mutual connection in our network. And I think that, um, what happens a lot of times is I am interested in this startup, for example, right?

And so I'll ask our mutual connection for a quick introduction. And I find that people are very, very kind and will make the introduction, right? And so beyond that point, it's, you know, coming with the curiosity and saying, Hey, you know, I love this experience that you're in. I was wondering if you could take time to just tell me more about it.

And so I could ask you a few questions. I think that's been, you know, a great. I think skill to learn is to just ask the right questions. And, you know, again, what, what Adama was, was saying about learning to listen, right? I think that's where we, we take a lot of lessons from is just listening to the stories of other people.

Oh, I really,

Julie Shields-Rutyna: I want all, uh, to hear about about this. I just, this has been so, so wonderful to hear all these details. And, uh, so then I'll ask you, Adama, how, how if, if counselors and teachers want to get in touch with you, what are the next steps they should take to learn

Adanma Ude: more? Absolutely. They can visit www dot nifty dot com.

There is a space where they can learn more. It will send an email to programs at nifty and it will be sent directly to me. Um, and then also they can find me on LinkedIn. Um, my name is, uh, it's, um, I know you'll show the slide, so they'll be able to like, see the spelling of my name there. Um, and then also, um, just.

Any like literally be super entrepreneurial, right? Like go Google me right though. But I'm no, I think that email and then I'm linked in would be like some of the best ways or contact us through the website. Yeah. Oh,

Julie Shields-Rutyna: I can't thank you enough. Jennifer. Jennifer and I texted behind the scenes about a lot of different points that were so, so important for, um, for, I was going to say young people, but for all people to hear about the entrepreneurial mindset.

Laysa Mourao: Okay. So

Julie Shields-Rutyna: I don't see any questions, but thank you all. And again, we will send the slides. You'll have contact information for both Adama and Liza and, um, you'll have the slides, you'll have the recording and share that with with others that you think would also be interested. And we're hoping to be helpful.

Have another workshop like this for students directly for students. So be on the lookout for that upcoming in the future. And again, thank you. What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon learning about all this. Thank you both so

Adanma Ude: much. I agree. I agree. I hope everybody stay warm with our like kind of storm that we're having.

And everyone's dancing. Thank you so much to Julie and Jennifer and to Liza. I just cannot thank you enough. Um, you are just a joy to always work with, and I'm just so proud of all you accomplish, and I look forward to, um, seeing what you do next. So thank

Laysa Mourao: you so much. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

All right. Take care, everyone. Have a good afternoon. Thanks.

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