Transforming a Problem into an Opportunity: Alumni to the Rescue

The NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College – serving the Monmouth and Ocean County region – recently collaborated with the College’s Academic Business and Technology Department and the Office of Foundation/Alumni Affairs to create a three minute video showing how best to engage your alumni. And, of course, the focus for the video was “entrepreneurship.”   The video was entered into the 2012 Elevator Grant Competition presented by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) and the Coleman Foundation. The College and NJSBDC were just notified that the video submitted ranked number one, winning the first prize- a $10,000 grant.

The video submitted appropriately provided a vignette of efforts at NJSBDC and Brookdale Community College to engage students and the community in promoting entrepreneurship as a choice in their career path; maximizing resources to enhance learning for students, alumni and the business community.

For the past three years the College departments collaborated with NJSBDC to produce an annual event that provides students and the community with an opportunity to enrich their understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur. “This educational session addresses the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs in starting and operating a small business,” said Jackeline Mejias Fuertes, Acting Regional Director, of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College. “Panelists represent industries typical to Monmouth County and the general region; restaurants, travel, printing, dance and exercise, event planning, manufacturing and consulting.”

These ‘Entrepreneurial Seminars,’ held during global entrepreneurship week, are comprised of panel members that include: Alumni of the credit and non-credit divisions of the College, local business owners, members of the College’s Business Advisory Committee, representatives of the Small Business Development Center and a student who is a business owner.  Panel members also share their business experiences alluding to issues like accounting, security, health care, software development and more.
It is hoped that some of the students attending these seminars will be potential future alumni panelists at this yearly event.  The events aim at not only promoting collaborations among the appropriate divisions in the College and the regional SBDC  and alumni but also focuses on promoting entrepreneurship and conveying strong, positive experiences about entrepreneurship and small business ownership despite the many obstacles that may exist in starting and growing a business.

“We’re very glad that our partner, Brookdale Community College, with the assistance of our regional center headquartered at the College was able to achieve top place at this NACCE competition,” Brenda Hopper, NJSBDC CEO-State Director stated.

“Higher educational collaborations with our network’s NJSBDCs generally result in positive outcomes for our host colleges, our regional centers and the small business community,” added Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC COO-Associate State Director.