Entrepreneurs Give Students Advice During Severna Park Fair


Nelson Mandela once proclaimed that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” With some new knowledge from Anne Arundel County business owners, Severna Park High School students have some additional knowledge to aid them in that goal.

Representatives from 15 businesses visited the school for the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Fair this fall. The fair was sponsored by the school's Signature Program, which offers students opportunities for job shadowing, mentoring, co-curricular clubs, college courses and internships.

Each Anne Arundel County high school's signature theme is unique and selected by its community. Severna Park High School’s theme is “business, innovation and leadership” — a topic at the forefront of the fall fair.

“[Students] learn about the ups and downs that each business has faced, but every business owner always stresses that being adaptive, and having grit and perseverance, are keys to success,” said Annie Houghton, Signature Program facilitator at Severna Park High School. “This is important for our youth to hear.”

Cheaper Than a Geek founder and “chief geek” Chris Barber told the students they can accomplish anything if they have a plan. Eco Adventures Executive Director Mei Len Sanchez-Barr talked about using her passion and motivation to start a business in her basement and turn it into a respected conservation education facility.

“Being able to talk honestly with students about how the ‘real world’ works is so important,” Sanchez-Barr said in feedback provided to Houghton. “Sometimes, it is not all about grades and SAT scores. It is about how badly are you willing to work for something you love doing? Persistence and determination work wonders! In the end, you want a career that fulfills you, not just a job to make ends meet. And yes, you can have both!”

Lisa's Cakepops owner Lisa Schneiderman shared both the successes and challenges her business has faced.

“It presented a great opportunity for the students to develop their own ideas and goals and not to be afraid to make mistakes,” Schneiderman said. “The only mistake would be not to try.”

Those messages resonated with students.

“I noticed that everyone had a rocky start when opening their business but was able to push through the challenges and become successful,” student Becca Jimeno said.

Seth Macola said, “Every entrepreneur said that you need to do something you love. They all believed that was most important.”

Isabella Tangrea was interested in the networking aspect.

“Networking allows people to learn about others' experiences and provide advice, which can help lead to a successful business,” she said. “It can help build a customer base.”

Sybella-Jae Mok agreed, saying, “Getting deals on resources from different businesses that you work with gets you a greater profit, so it pays to network.”

Other business speakers included Blendabowl, The Blended Essentials, Henson & Associates, I Got Next Retro Toys and Games, Graphic 37 Print and Design, Jackie D’Amico Designs, JZ Power Washing, The Big Bean, The Matt Wyble Team of CENTURY 21 New Millennium, Perfectly Potsie, StellaLuna Raine, and Cornett Cooling & Heating.

Houghton hopes the students will heed the advice shared by local business owners and pair it with other lessons learned through the Signature Program to make a positive impact in the world.

“I believe entrepreneurship education is important as it teaches students important life skills such as collaborating, speaking in public, handling real and complex problems, using social media for promotional purposes as well as analyzing and using data,” Houghton said. “Entrepreneurship is important for students because it teaches them to become resilient."


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