Success by your own hands

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Feb. 11, 2015

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A new JMU program prepares youngsters for college success

James Madison University is collaborating with school districts around the Shenandoah Valley to identify middle-school students with academic potential who come from first-generation and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Through Valley Scholars, a new community engagement program, the university will then work with these students to help prepare them for college and provide full scholarships to JMU if they are admitted.

'We are going to open some doors.' — JMU President Jonathan R. Alger

The Valley Scholars participate in carefully crafted activities held at JMU that foster a desire to learn and build skills that will help the students achieve academic success. On Nov. 4, during a visit to the Harrisonburg Farmers’ Market the budding scholars experienced entrepreneurship up close. The event presented the students with the obstacles and problems associated with business ownership and gave them the opportunity to come up with creative solutions to those problems. In experiencing entrepreneurship, the students honed effective problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Valley Scholars paired with JMU student-mentors during the visit to the Farmers’ Market.

Below, some photos of the day's activities.

Valley Scholars at Farmers Market

Each scholar had a list of questions to pose to vendors to elicit information on the business, its customers and its challenges. Why did you choose to sell these products? What is your best-selling item? Does your product solve a problem for customers? What is your greatest challenge?”

Valley Scholars at Farmers Market

Director of the Valley Scholars Program Shaun Mooney (below, center) shared the benefits of owning your own business. “One purpose of entrepreneurship is doing what you love,” he said.

Shaun Mooney talks to Valley Scholars

After visiting the Farmers’ Market, students spent time analyzing their experiences. JMU Director of Technology Innovation Mary Lou Bourne (below, right) directed the teams to use the NABC Model to brainstorm business solutions—Need, Approach, Benefit, Competition. “What is the need or problem to be solved?” she asked.

Mary Lou Bourne talks to Valley Scholars

Acting as “consultants,” Valley Scholars wrote letters to vendors explaining their analyses and proposing solutions to vendor problems.

Valley Scholars writing letters

Teams presented their findings and shared their problem-solving strategies with the group.

Valley Scholars presenting their solutions to entrepreneurial problems

Valley Scholars agreed: “The day was all about communicating, doing and building.”

Valley Scholars presenting their solutions to entrepreneurial problems

Learn more about the Valley Scholars Program.

Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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