A small group of students from The University of Southern Mississippi took advantage of a big opportunity as recent participants in the Emerging Minority Business Leaders (EMBL) program held on the campus West Liberty University in West Liberty, W. Va.
Mario King, Tempestt Miller, LaQuisha Thomas and Marcelo Unda were selected after completing a rigorous application process that included a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher; writing a personal essay on entrepreneurship; telephone interviews; personal letters of reference and future plans that may involve entrepreneurial activities.
Dr. SheRhonda Gibbs, assistant professor of management at Southern Miss, accompanied the students and served as a facilitator at the program, working as an adviser to a group of six EMBL students. Dr. Jennifer Sequeira, associate professor of management at Southern Miss, also facilitated at the program. Gibbs said having Southern Miss students involved in the program provided a win-win situation for everyone.
“I can safely say that the EMBL program benefitted by having Southern Miss students participate,” said Gibbs. “Particularly, the business acumen and background of Southern Miss students was instrumental in producing thoughtful and insightful business plans. Many students participating in EMBL have backgrounds in areas such as science, math, engineering and liberal arts, with little exposure to business plans and entrepreneurship.
“Thus, have a solid crop of students with backgrounds in business greatly improved the overall performance of students in the program. I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts made by this group of students.”
The EMBL program is designed to provide educational, training and career opportunities with emphasis on students from a wide variety of ethnic, economic and cultural backgrounds in order to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs and technology managers. The program is open to undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.
Southern Miss students played key leadership roles in their individual groups and during the EMBL program in general. Miller, a master’s student in Mass Communication, served as the liaison between her group and the facilitator when deciding business strategy and completing key aspects of the business plan. King, senior in Business Administration/Human Resources was voted CEO of his group and became a finalist for the Most Outstanding Student Award. Thomas, a recent graduate in General Management and Unda, a recent graduate in Business Administration, served as mentors, providing advice on business plan process, financial statement creation and management.
Unda credited his undergraduate work at Southern Miss for helping him emerge as a vocal leader in his group which included students from Syracuse, Maryland, Florida and Ohio.
“I used my experience from my entrepreneurship class to meet requirements and deadlines on time,” he said. “We had a specific outline to follow and each section had to be included within our business plan. I made sure that our group was responsible for turning in our business plan on time and in the correct format. I would not let minor errors affect our overall grade.
“I also motivated our group to be firm believers in our product and our company. If I could get them to believe that our business plan had value, then I knew that we could bring that to our presentation and show it to the judges.”