“Our students radiate energy, strength, determination, and hope…seeing them interact engagingly with the instructor, ETS grads and guest speakers is a powerful and rewarding experience!” Those are the words of our new Entrepreneurship Coach & Program Manager Alexia Muchisu Wendel, who, for the last three weeks has been attending our ETS classes in the Alexandria Durant Center.
With 22 students in both Alexandria and Bethesda classrooms, Alexia was able to assess and witness the full evolution of the students. While the topics progressed from simply conveying business ideas to managing personal finances (led by Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi) and learning marketing strategies to understanding the process of story telling, the students were able to demonstrate a desire for knowledge and the capacity to absorb information useful to launching their businesses.
For the “Telling your Story” session, our former ETS students: Velma Crawford, Lyzbeth Monard, Elda LaRue, Alison Sigethy, and Kudzai Gombakomba were brought in as guest speakers to share their experiences after the program. All had extraordinary stories to tell; from personal struggles to professional triumphs they seem to have seen it all. One of the most beautiful things in life is the ability to turn the saddest story into a positive and rewarding experience, a story that teaches us that mistakes are only a learning process. Our grads have exactly done this and been there, and seeing the reception they were receiving from our current students demonstrates that human interaction coupled with great ideas can foment lasting partnerships and a solid flow of information ultimately leading to success.
According to Alexia, the driving force behind the success of the classes is our coordinator and instructor Sharmila Karamchandani, who infuses knowledge and experience into her teachings and shows a keen understanding of individual students struggles and potentials.
The collaboration among students is stellar, “It makes sense to hear different perspectives even when it’s not within the same industry” says Alexia. Working well together, students made agreements and friendships sprung. Just recently Alexia noticed how two of our students Julie Hyo Park and Angela Sargents (both in the crocheting & knitting industry) agreed to work together since one liked knitting and the other liked finishing products, hence an informal partnership was born out of a simple conversation.
The classroom allowed them to break the ice, it became a platform for expressing their thoughts and ideas and the confidence is now ceiling high, our students are now few steps away from reaching the tip of the mountain.
With two months remaining towards graduation, with the support of our instructors, coordinators, mentors, trainers, and guest speakers and more, our students are ready to take over the world! Thank you Alexia for being there with our students, and thank you all who made this possible!
By Hanna Yamir, Program Associate Intern