What do a youth sport officiating agency, a club dedicated to microfinance, a student-run bus company, a Chinese economic forum, and a Silver eBay PowerSeller business have to do with entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison?
Each of the above businesses/organizations — Stripes Officiating Agency (Travis Blomberg) , the International Development Club (Christopher Kardosh) , Madison Shuttle (Nicole Wiegert) , the China Economic Forum (Huimin Zhang) and Frenchy Electronics (Joseph French) — was created, on or off campus, by a current UW-Madison undergraduate. Each of these five sophomores will receive a $2,500 Wiscontrepreneur scholarship next semester.
The first-ever awards were announced during Global Entrepreneurship Week by the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations (OCR) , leaders of the Wiscontrepreneur Initiative. In all, 10 scholarships of $2,500 will be awarded.
“We are extremely impressed with the talent and creativity of all our scholarship winners,” says Charles Hoslet, OCR managing director. “These undergraduates represent a variety of academic fields, from business to social work to the arts, and we congratulate all of them on their achievement.”
In addition to Blomberg (a political science major from Colfax, Wis.) , Kardosh (finance and Arabic major from South Brunswick, N.J.) , Wiegert (a marketing and technical theater major from Green Bay, Wis.) , Zhang (a double major in economics and journalism from Dalian, China) and French (accounting and finance major from Menomonee Falls, Wis.) , Wiscontrepreneur scholarship winners included:
- Brian Benford, social work major, originally from Milwaukee
- Ryan Garza, double major in political science and sociology, certificate in Chicano/Latino studies, from Chicago
- Julian Moncada, major in finance and international business, from Lauderdale, Minn.
- Jessica Pan, French and international relations major, from Lincolnwood, Ill.
- Connor Tuttle, major in finance, investment and banking, from Winnetka, Ill.
Hoslet says the Wiscontrepreneur scholarships were a creation of former UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley, who was eager to support undergraduate entrepreneurs. The scholarships were made available with support from the chancellor’s office and will be administered through the campus’s Undergraduate Academic Awards (UAA) Office.
“Several awards and scholarships are available to UW-Madison students in specific disciplines,” Hoslet says. “But these are the first awards of their kind aimed at students from anywhere on campus who are engaged in entrepreneurship.”
“Wiscontrepreneur has given students at UW-Madison an opportunity for innovative and creative thinking,” says French, whose entrepreneurial business was recognized by the National Federation of Independent Business in 2006. “It is for this reason that I have dedicated my future and my career to entrepreneurship, developing our world for tomorrow.”
“It’s my honor to get this award,” adds Zhang, who is also an intern with the Asian Pacific American Council at UW-Madison. “I will use this as an encouragement to move forward in the field of entrepreneurship.”
UW-Madison is one of only 19 campuses nationwide to receive a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffmann Foundation of Kansas City to help build the spirit and skills of entrepreneurism among all students. Begun in early 2007, the effort, branded Wiscontrepreneur, is developing and implementing a broad program to foster and invigorate campus entrepreneurial thinking and to promote the creation of new business entities and new, socially beneficial organizations.
“We believe that every UW student can benefit from exposure to entrepreneurship,” says Hoslet. “We want to do all that we can to support that creative thinking and innovation.”