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National women's business council selects Loyola student for 2015 cohort

Loyola press release - June 30, 2015

Loyola University New Orleans international business major Ashley Garcia was one of only 22 college students nationwide selected to participate in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council's Student Entrepreneur Program, a distinguished program that aims to foster growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses. Her selection by the WBENC as part of their 2015 student entrepreneur cohort places Loyola as one of 14 universities nationwide to have a student participating.

“Traveling to Austin and connecting with corporate women business leaders from companies like Capital One, Shell and Macy's has really shown me that women are able to do anything they put their minds to,” Garcia said. “Over only the last week I have understood what it means to run a women-owned business and how important it is to have the support of other women on the same path around you. Suddenly the corporate world and the job hunt after college is exciting to me and not so scary. Entrepreneur-wise, I feel empowered to go full force and cultivate the business ideas that I have written down on napkins for years.”

The distinguished WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program, which ran June 21-26, fosters growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses through tailored curriculum, mentoring from certified women’s business enterprises and Fortune 500 corporate members, a pitch competition set at WBENC’s National Conference & Business Fair in Austin, Texas from June 23-25, and off-site visits to corporations and accelerators supported by the program’s title sponsor, Shell. Since SEP’s inception in 2008, more than 120 students have graduated from the program.

Being selected for the 2015 WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program has been a blessing in disguise for Garcia, who plans to start a women's organization within Loyola’s business school where she can brainstorm ideas and attend conferences to network with other women entrepreneurs. Garcia says the conference has helped her to see how practical her studies and degree at Loyola will be next year following graduation. Participation in the conference has also helped her to consider new tools and skills for implementing her vision, she said.

WBENC and Shell are committed to enriching the future for all women-owned businesses. In 2015, WBENC broadened the student entrepreneurship program’s application from its former focus on STEM to include the Arts, including creativity and design. By centering on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), the program underscores the importance of bringing diverse women from various academic interests together at the developmental stages of their career to build a support network for future women business owners and leaders.

In addition to industry and geographical diversity, this year’s cohort has representative racial diversity, including students who identify as Black or African American; Asian or Pacific Islander; Hispanic or Latina; or Caucasian.

“We must be proactive about encouraging future women’s business enterprises of all backgrounds see the possibilities in opening their own businesses,” said Pamela Prince-Eason, president and CEO of WBENC. “The Student Entrepreneur Program does this by bringing students from across the country, in different fields and with diverse backgrounds. It is important throughout the WBENC community that we are intentional in the development of young women.”

Visit the WBENC program website for more information.