Dr Jeff Cornwall

Learning Through Experience

Entrepreneurship is something that is best learned through application and experience, which is why we focus so much on experiential learning in our program at Belmont University.

One way we help give our students an opportunity for experience is through participating in the international competition called Collegiate DECA.

“Collegiate DECA is an opportunity for students from across the globe to compete with and learn from each other, while their business knowledge is tested under pressure,” says Eric Guroff, a senior majoring in Entrepreneurship and Music Business. “Students compete on virtually every topic in business, from financial analysis to entertainment marketing and everything in between.  But the Belmont team focuses most of its efforts towards one event, the Entrepreneurial Challenge, which is a pressure cooker that requires students to pitch a venture to a series of judges in hopes of winning a cash prize.”

This year the students decided to use the business skills they are developing in our program to help fundraise for the trip to the DECA competition, which will be in Anaheim, California.

“This fundraiser is a great opportunity for the students to apply knowledge learned in the classroom and apply to a real-world business setting,” said Hillary Unis, a senior entrepreneurship major.  “Instead of traditional fundraisers, we are putting forth the extra effort to engage with the community and build relationships with local businesses on a personal and professional level.”

“When I first heard about the fundraiser, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Lauren Guenther, junior Information Systems Management major.  “As a student looking for opportunities to develop my skill set, build a network, and showcase my talents, this was the key to a lock I had been trying to fit for some time.”

“Part of the reason I am so excited about this fundraiser is that the students going to DECA have wide variety of expertise and skills that could be valuable for area businesses,” adds Guroff.  “Our team is full of designers, marketers, videographers, SEO and social media specialists, financial analysts, researchers, pitch coaches and more.”

Many of these students have already been actively taking their skills from the classroom into the community through internships and other experiences.

“My skills in strategy, pitch development, and financial modeling come directly through working with organizations like Startup Tennessee, the Entrepreneur Center, and Jumpstart Foundry,” explains Dave Servodidio, senior Entrepreneurship and Economics major.

Experiential opportunities such as Collegiate DECA are often a turning point for many students.

“DECA taught me confidence and how to be a leader,” said Shannon York, Entrepreneurship major who participated for the first time last year as a freshman.  Shannon’s team took second at the international competition last year. “Through the confidence I gained last year I have taken on a leadership position within Belmont’s chapter of Collegiate DECA.”

The Belmont Collegiate DECA student consulting teams are excited to begin helping businesses in Nashville.  For more information contact Lisa Davis at lisa.davis@belmont.edu.

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