Texas Wesleyan students are gaining business experience while making a difference in their community through Enactus.
Enactus is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action, according to enactus.org.
“I believe it’s more than entrepreneurship because it has a social responsibility part attached,” said Dr. Gokcen Ogruk, assistant professor of economics, who helped found the Wesleyan chapter in the fall of 2014. “The students come together, but they create a project that’s socially responsible.”
Enactus’ Wesleyan chapter began its first project, the PolyWes Gardens, in December 2015.
“The main idea was to make a connection between students and locals by working on the garden,” she said.
The students who participated in this project also went on to compete in the Enactus 2016 Regional Competition, where they received the “Rookie of the Year” prize, Ogruk said.
“So you start a project, and the impetus is to bring about change and solve the social problem, but inside of that, the team will go to a competition with other universities in your region,” said Dr. Meghan Wright, assistant professor of economics and fellow Enactus faculty advisor. “You compete against each other, and you’re judged on how big of an impact your project is bringing from the economic, the social and the environmental pillars.”
The students are judged by middle-management of companies, some of which are Fortune 500 companies, Wright said.
“There’s so many internships, and then job opportunities, that are at these competitions,” she said. “We have had students get hired onsite for internships and full-time employment.”
One such student is senior business management major Christa Gjedde, who was offered a job for after graduation from an Enactus conference.
“Students should join because they will get real-life experience,” Gjedde said. “The joy of helping others and being able to learn as you go is the best experience you can get.”
Although Gjedde, who heard about the organization through Wright, has only been involved with Enactus for four months, she is now project manager of the group’s latest project, a partnership between Enactus students and Sherry White, founder of Trulee, a local company that makes “bliss bites,” which are sweet treats made from superfoods.
“I like how we are about to help a real company with their business and marketing plan,” Gjedde said. “We are getting real life experience with a real company.”
White shares Gjedde’s enthusiasm.
“We are very excited about our partnership with the Enactus students and know that their contributions will help continue to drive our business forward as we grow,” White said.
The Trulee project is just one of three projects that Ogruk plans to introduce to the 24 students enrolled in the special topics course created specifically for the organization, but she hopes some students will continue work on the community garden as well. Students are also welcome to bring their own ideas, Wright said.
“They’re not limited to the projects that we have, or that we’re currently just getting started,” Wright said. “But they can jump on one of those, or, if they’re coming to the course because they want some experience starting something they’re passionate about, they can surely bring that to the table.”
Students don’t have to be enrolled in the course, or be a business major, to be involved, either, Ogruk said.
“We are interested in students from computer science, mass communication – any field that have an interest in having a business in the future,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be just business students.”
Students interested in joining Wesleyan’s Enactus chapter should contact Dr. Gokcen Ogruk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-531-4840 or Dr. Meghan Wright at email@example.com or 817-531-4840.