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Teens mean business at Lead America conference

Lead AmericaBy Amanda Murphy

WELLESLEY, Mass. — Innovators of tomorrow gathered at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. for the Lead America Business & Entrepreneurship High School Conference.

Held July 6-15, the event provided an opportunity for high school students to network and gain experience in the business world.

“It’s a world-renowned program and being part of it makes you more knowledgeable,” said Luis Yeguez, an adult vocation recruiter with the Seminole Tribe’s Education Department, who attended the conference with Tribal students Joslyn Cypress and Sierra Bowers. “It really tells students what they need for success.”

During the nine-day event, students attended college-accredited classes at the No. 1 undergraduate entrepreneurship program in the country – a distinction held by Babson for 16 consecutive years. They learned time management, decision making, team building, conflict resolution, public speaking and communication skills through classes, field excursions and renowned business experts.

By picking the brains of these business buffs – including Dr. Dennis Hanno, Dean of the Undergraduate School at Babson College – students gained the skills necessary for creating their own business model. They divided into groups and voted on leadership roles, such as CEO and vice president, simulating a real corporation. The students, many of whom had never met before, pulled their individual ideas together to draft a corporate vision, develop a strategic design, create a formal business plan and ultimately, sell it to mock investors.

Cypress, 18, didn’t know what she was getting into when she arrived at the conference, as business is not her main interest, but she wanted to try something different.  She found the conference very informative.

“I wasn’t really going to be an entrepreneur, but it’s really good to know if my plans in the future change,” she said.

Cypress is actually more inclined to drawing and writing, but she learned that businesses need artists to market their ventures. Her artistic talents came in handy during the group project.

“One of the kids caught me doodling and he asked if I could draw the products and the commercial,” she said.

Not only did Cypress and Bowers make new friends, but they also networked with 98 students from countries like China, Japan and Australia, among others, who share common interests.

“Some people in the program and the faculty advisers got me really inspired to actually be serious,” Cypress said. “It got me really thinking about what I want to do.”

Lead America partners with top colleges and universities in the nation to host college immersion programs to prepare middle and high school students, academically and emotionally, for the transition into college. Conference topics range from engineering to medicine to media, creating opportunities for students with all types of interests.

The Education Department caters to the interests of students and gladly sends them to any of the Lead America conferences. Yeguez hopes to have more students attend next year’s conference.

“It really prepares the students to take the business side of the Tribe to a higher level,” Yeguez said.

If you would like to participate in an educational conference or need assistance with college applications, contact the Education Department at 954-989-6840.