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Students and Faculty Learn About Female Entrepreneurship and Empowerment

Entrepreneurism coupled with female empowerment recently provided Saint Peter’s students, faculty and staff with the opportunity to learn about running a successful enterprise from women dominating in a variety of industries.

To mark Women in Entrepreneurship Week, the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University hosted “Making Your Mark in Different Career Paths.” The networking event brought together more than 60 local vendors, industrialists, community advocates and local residents along with 60 students, faculty and staff members of the University to recognize the achievements of many women entrepreneurs.

“Women Entrepreneurship Week was a great opportunity for the Ignite Institute and Saint Peter’s University to take a prominent role as a leader in promoting the success of women leaders and entrepreneurs within the university and in the larger community,” said Mary Kate Naatus, Ph.D., assistant professor of business administration and acting director of the Ignite Institute.

The event featured a panel of female leaders and business owners who discussed the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship. The panelists included: Lynn Hazan, owner and writer of the blog CHICPeaJC;  Makeba Green, CEO of OMG Enterprises; Universe Konadu, Ph.D., internationally recognized writer and artist; and Briana Lawrence, chief innovation strategist of Jersey City’s innovation team. The discussion was moderated by Emily Manz, founder of “Have You Met Newark” and economic development consultant of OCO Global.

Dr. Naatus emphasized the importance of holding events such as “Make Your Mark,” which was supported by a signature grant from The Provident Bank Foundation.

“These programs are an important step in building relationships with key local organizers and business owners who support and participate in our experiential learning and consulting programs and who seek to foster mutually beneficial learning opportunities with students and community business partners,” she added.

In addition, “Make Your Mark featured remarks from Jersey City Councilwoman Candice Osborne, Rokitt CEO Oksana Sokolovsky, Saint Peter’s Communication Professor Ernabel Demillo, GNEC Executive Director Steven Gomez, Rising Tide Capital Director of Communications Esther Fraser, AngelaCares CEO Angela McKnight and Diana Braga and Gail Godesky of Provident Bank and Provident4Women.

“The definition of an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and manages any enterprise with initiative and risk,” said Godesky. “We are all entrepreneurs in our own right.”

Following the panel discussion, Dr. Naatus recalled several pieces of positive feedback from attendees — in particular, the students. Kaycee de Voogd ’16, an international business major with a marketing minor, said she felt empowered after hearing about the experiences and challenges of the speakers. Several other students described feeling inspired to try to turn their passions into a business.

Students, faculty and staff were also able to network with a variety of local businesses and organizations, which allowed them to showcase their products and services.

“Our exhibiting businesses did a great job featuring their products and services and providing samples to the attendees,” said Dr. Naatus. “I would especially like to thank our Ignite Institute partner, Rising Tide Capital, and community partner, GNEC, who made the event a success.”

In addition, Dr. Naatus expressed gratitude to Provident Bank for supporting the Ignite Institute and for being an integral part of Saint Peter’s Women Entrepreneurship Week event.

“I would also like to thank Ignite Institute interns Stephanie Fennel and Megan Parker and to Professor Chanaz Gargouri for their contributions,” she added.