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New minor in entrepreneurial leadership and innovation

In March, Lewis & Clark approved its newest minor, Entrepreneurial Leadership and Innovation (ELI). The new curriculum structure began this semester, and the first graduating class to be awarded the minor will be the class of 2021, according to the LC website. 

The ELI minor focuses on helping students build a set of skills that prepares them for the future. 

“The goal of the entrepreneurial leadership and innovation minor is to leverage students’ liberal arts education to solve problems and put solutions into action,” Director of the Bates Center and Professor of Psychology Brian Detweiler-Bedell said via email. “Entrepreneurship at Lewis & Clark is about creating positive change in any setting, whether within an organization or a community, or through a business or not-for-profit organization. We add context, skills, and networking so that students have the resources they need, and we give them the clarity and confidence to create such change.”

The minor incorporates hands-on experience through programs such as an internship-focused course, the Bates Center’s Lunch with a Leader series and the center’s Winterim program.

Nick Lombardi ’21 was able to work at Portland-based commercial real estate firm PacTrust through Innovation at Work: Internship and Seminar, one of the minor’s courses. 

“(Innovation at Work) was probably my favorite class because they allow you to do an internship,” Lombardi said. “You meet in class one day a week and then do your internship the other two, so that was super cool to get real work experience while taking a class.” 

Students can participate in Winterim to fulfill the co-curricular requirement of the ELI minor. Winterim is a five-day-long intensive workshop that happens during the last week of winter break. Students learn about a variety of topics related to entrepreneurship from experts in the field throughout the week. They also form teams in order to pitch a potential business idea which could even receive funding. 

Tuse Mahenya ’21 participated in Winterim her sophomore year, and her experience launched her interest in entrepreneurship. 

“All of the people that they let us meet were always so kind and generous,” Mahenya said. “(They) would actually give their time to students, and they were pretty important people in their own fields. So it felt really good to feel like someone was there for you.” 

Mahenya encourages all students to participate in Winterim, even if they are not an ELI minor. 

“The idea was that we learn all about business, personal literacy, how design thinking is done, branding, everything that one might need to know about starting a business or succeeding in their business,” Mahenya said. “It was an all around incredible experience for anyone that’s looking to be creative or be a problem solver in whatever field that they’re in.” 

Students not only gain hands on experience in entrepreneurship but skills that will help them in any career they choose. Mahenya believes that her experience within the ELI minor has given her an entrepreneurial mindset that will help her achieve her goals no matter what they are. 

“I think thethat entrepreneurship minor … (has) just made me feel so much more confident about presenting myself to other people,” Mahenya said. “I feel like they teach you people skills, which is really good because I feel like no other major tells you how to do that.” 

Associate Director of the Bates Center Chrys Hutchings similarly wants to dispel the myth that entrepreneurship is just business in disguise. 

“The Bates Center is certainly here for students who want to create something new through a business, but entrepreneurship goes far beyond that,” Huntchings said via email. “Entrepreneurship is problem solving. It’s about being the most effective version of yourself. And leadership is executing solutions in partnership with others. Entrepreneurship and leadership, taken together, include social justice, systems change, social enterprises, and equity and inclusion efforts.”

Hutchings wants to emphasize that entrepreneurship at LC is dedicated to expanding the field to be more inclusive and diverse.

“‘Entrepreneurship as change’ and ‘entrepreneurship as self-transformation’ can be a force for greater equity,” Hutchings said via email. “At Lewis & Clark, we are in a position and have an obligation to support this at the start of a young person’s journey. For example, it’s a top priority that we host a diverse group of speakers and mentors in our Lunch with a Leader series and Winterim workshop.”

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