CoB Hosts Valley Scholars at ICE House


Valley ScholarsOn Tuesday, November 4, middle school students from the Shenandoah Valley gathered at the ICE House to participate in a Valley Scholars event with the College of Business. The Valley Scholars program provides economically disadvantaged middle school students in the Shenandoah Valley with an opportunity to go through strict college preparation. If the students continue to participate in Valley Scholars through high school and are accepted into JMU, they will receive a full scholarship.

The event began with the Marshmallow Challenge led by Eric Walisko from the Society of Entrepreneurs, which was an activity where the students had to work in teams to create a tower out of marshmallows and straws. Next, Bill Wales, a professor of Management, spoke to the students about the customer discovery process and entrepreneurship, telling them that “Every problem can turn into an opportunity.”

Following Wales’ introduction, the students visited the local Farmer’s Market where they interviewed pre-selected vendors including Oakhill Herbs, The WoodArt Studio and Liege Waffles. The students asked the vendors a series of questions specifically about what they are selling, what their challenges are and what they would like to change about their products.

“I experienced a new thing going to the Farmer’s Market. I had never been to a Farmer’s Market,” said one student at Skyline Middle School. “I liked the hand crafted soap. It was special with a design. She put a lot of thought into it. It was cool learning about that and how she makes a living.”

After their miniature field trip, the students returned back to the ICE House and began to write about their experiences with the vendors. Mary Lou Bourne, the Director of Technology Innovation and the Executive Director, James Madison Innovations, Inc., spoke to the participants about small businesses and how they can solve their problems by customer feedback. She also gave some examples of successful entrepreneurs in the Shenandoah Valley, like SRI, which was responsible for creating the computer mouse.

Toward the closing of the event, the students presented their findings to the group and gave a short synopsis of what each vendor needed to work on.

“It was really fun to explain the steps in taking in business—how to cooperate with each other,” said one student at Skyline Middle School.

Carol Hamilton, the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and Shaun Mooney, the Director of the Valley Scholars program, concluded the event with some words of advice. Hamilton encouraged the students to ask questions and be innovative, while Mooney asked for a show of hands of how many people wanted to be entrepreneurs. When he saw how many hands were raised he said, “One purpose of entrepreneurship is doing what you love.”

“For people who don’t have a long term vision, this program gives them a means to an end,” said CoB student volunteer Hailey Fleming. “It gave them something to work for and think about – the importance of education. I hope it gives them something to work toward.”

Please click here to view photos from the event. 

Published: Monday, November 17, 2014

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2016

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