For the 13th time in 18 years, Eckerd College students have won first place in the Enactus Regional Competition, an annual competition to create and implement community development projects using entrepreneurial ideas.
Enactus, a nonprofit organization formed to inspire students to improve and positively impact local areas through empowering entrepreneurship, is sponsored by hundreds of corporations from Walmart to Pfizer. Judges are often employed by sponsor companies.
“Dr. Naveen Maholtra, who was appointed to the Tom and Mary James Professorship in Finance, is the faculty advisor to Eckerd College’s Enactus chapter. The program was formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) until a recent rebranding. “
This year’s regional winners go on to compete at nationals on May 15–17 in St. Louis, Mo. Teams from 36 countries will meet at the Enactus World Cup Sept. 28–30 in Toronto, Canada.
Eckerd’s chapter—led by Faculty Advisor Dr. Naveen Malhotra, the Tom and Mary James professor of finance at Eckerd College—is composed of students from the Program for Experienced Learners (PEL). They created four qualifying projects with corporate sponsors and local charities. Malhotra said it’s common for outstanding presenters to be offered jobs and internships on the spot from participating Fortune 500 companies. “I’ve had students offered jobs because the presentation proves you can take a concept, develop an action plan, implement it and then pitch it to others to get them excited about it too.”
During PEL’s eight-week Spring I Term, chapter members Yolanda Carter ‘17, Andrea Gordon ‘16, Dorice Michalik ‘17, Tonya Zalick ‘17 and Lori Pinkerton ‘16 targeted St. Petersburg’s homeless, elderly, unemployed, impoverished, minority and veteran populations.
Yolanda Carter, the 2015–2016 Eckerd Enactus Chapter president, said the group was most proud of Tonya Zalick’s Re-Emerge project, which combated the social isolation of the elderly through a watercolor painting class and participation in the local art walk to integrate them into the community.
“Twelve seniors in a particular senior housing development participated,” Carter explained. “We coordinated the local watercolor artist to come and instruct them with the finished pieces. Then we coached and encouraged them on how to sell their work and opened up communications between them and local businesses that feature art.”
Re-Emerge was presented along with the other projects at the April 18 Virtual Regional Competition. More than 420 U.S. colleges and universities have Enactus chapters, including 15 schools in Florida.
Eckerd College will represent the region in St. Louis with an eye on the Enactus World Cup this fall.
To learn more about Eckerd’s Program for Experienced Learners, visit eckerd.edu/pel.