September 2, 2014  

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Southern Entrepreneurship Program Hosts Mississippi High School Students

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The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP), operated within the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education (CEEE), commenced its fifth successive year of statewide entrepreneurship education during a student symposium held Sept 29.

The symposium, part one in a series of three scheduled each school year, attracted more than 150 high school students from Heidelberg, Gulfport, Petal, Columbus, Forrest County Agricultural, Hattiesburg, Harrison Central, Long Beach and Natchez. SEP and the Center partnered with Jones County Junior College (JCJC) and Regions Bank to host and sponsor the event held near Ellisville, Miss.

The day’s educational activities began at the JCJC Advanced Technology Center. Divided into two half-day events, the day began with a lively discussion panel featuring seven Mississippi entrepreneurs representing various industries, including fashion retail, food services, graphic design and branding and childcare services, with students benefitted from hearing their inspiring personal stories of success and sacrifice.

One of the panelists, Southern Miss freshman and SEP graduate Nicolet Hopper of Petal, spoke of how her participation in the program had been an asset to her personal entrepreneurial development. Following the panel, students had an opportunity during informal break-out sessions to seek advice from the entrepreneurs regarding their business practices and personal experiences. Questions and discussions addressed the challenges and benefits of owning a business and strategic approaches to competition.

The second half of the day was spent on team-building activities challenging the students’ communication skills, critical thinking, and ability to work as a cohesive unit.  During the afternoon activities, students networked and built friendships with students from other schools while working as a team.

Through the SEP, the CEEE is establishing a network of young entrepreneurs through a unique hands-on approach to education. For more information on the SEP and how interested high schools can become involved, contact Brent Hales at brent.hales@usm.edu or call 601.266.6519; or visit the website at http://www.theSEP.org.