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ULM Celebrates Another Huge Milestone Through It's Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup!

Words By: Andy Smith, Senior Editor in Chief - iConnect Newspaper -

It is a proven fact that Entrepreneurship is a major part of the lifeline when it comes to the community growth aspect. Well today, the University of Louisiana has announced an expansion of its Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Competition, with the grand prize for the first-place winner doubling from $25,000 to $50,000. This exciting development is a testament to the power of entrepreneurship and the incredible potential growth of this university. University students from across the state of Louisiana now have the chance to showcase their business acumen and potentially win big, while also disrupting business as usual in the process.

Meet Cathi Hemed, who is honored and privileged to serve as Coordinator of this amazing initiative. We caught a brief interview with Cathi in the midst of all the excitement!

Andy: You made a huge announcement today about the advancement of the entrepreneurial Pelicans cup. How do you feel to be the Spearhead of these hands on the ground and an amazing endeavor?

Cathi: I am humbled to be a part of it. I was approached to do this and now it gets me out of bed every day. This is something I live for changing lives and starting business across Louisiana knowing that we need this and seeing how much talent we have here. I am just honored to be a part of it. Thank you to Thompson that I was worthy of it.

Andy: Secondly when it comes to managing, I've watched you the first year manage locally inside of a school campus and surrounding areas you've expanded into the entire state, how are you going to manage working with schools and representatives and students across the city lines?

Cathi: Were going to do what we do best. We hit the road this summer and around different campuses and we were welcomed with open arms and they are so excited to be a part of something that's bigger than high school and this much money involved because they have that dedication to their students too, and so there hasn't been any closed doors or any ULM vs anyone else it's actually just been wonderful and welcoming all across the state of Louisiana, so I'm excited and eager to work with students from all corners of the state

Pictured Above: Left to Right (Senior Editor in Chief, Andy Smith- iConnect Newspaper & Mrs. Cathi Hemed, Director of External Initiatives, ULM

The University of Louisiana's decision to expand the Pelican Cup Competition statewide brings with it a host of benefits and challenges. First and foremost, the expansion opens up the competition to a larger pool of talented and ambitious university students from across Louisiana. This means that the competition will be even more competitive and diverse, as students from different universities and regions bring their unique perspectives and innovative ideas to the table. In college, students are exposed to a wealth of knowledge and resources that can help them cultivate their entrepreneurial skills. They have access to mentors, networking events, and courses that teach them the ins and outs of starting and running a successful business. This exposure allows students to think outside the box and develop creative solutions to real-world problems.

Pictured Above: Dr. Ron Berry, President, University of Louisiana at Monroe


Andy: Dr. Berry, the announcement was just made a major advancement for the Entrepreneurial Pelican Cup Program, how do you feel to know that this endeavor is being spearheaded here on the campus of ULM?

Dr Berry: It's absolutely amazing we tell our students and faculty all the time that we know that they're just as bright and capable and can do anything they want to and can compete with anyone in the world. This program and this funding that was made available by our generous sponsors and donors just gives them the opportunity to go prove that to the world. This program allows our students to gain confidence and to get better at public seeking and to be able to analyze situations and be creative and come up with business opportunities that might lead to new businesses in our community and new career opportunities for other people to work at the businesses. It's just really quite exciting for the University.

Andy: Here's the big thing that I want you to speak about, I've watched closely through the process because a few of the students actually helped me with my project and they had to stop because they were competing with the Pelican cup and now it's going statewide. How are you going to manage or how does it feel to know that this endeavor is crossing possibly thousands of entrepreneurs and potential competitors?

Dr Berry: It's really quite humbling it's awesome, it's amazing you know and what's really neat about this program is it's another opportunity to bring faculty students closer together and to build those relationships, which are going to impact these students across the state. It's really quite a life-changing program for students across the state that can help the state become the state that we all want it to be which means opportunities for everyone.

Encouraging student innovation and entrepreneurship offers a multitude of benefits, not just for individual students, but also for the broader community and economy. By nurturing and supporting the entrepreneurial spirit in young minds, universities and society as a whole can reap the following rewards:

1. Economic Growth: Entrepreneurship is a driving force behind economic growth and job creation. Encouraging students to pursue their innovative ideas can lead to the development of new businesses, industries, and employment opportunities. This can have a positive impact on the local and regional economy, attracting investment and fostering economic prosperity.

2. Skill Development: Engaging in entrepreneurship exposes students to a wide range of skills that are vital for success in today's rapidly changing world. They learn to think critically, solve problems creatively, and take risks. These skills are highly transferable and can be applied in various career paths, enhancing employability and adaptability.

3. Innovation and Creativity: By encouraging student innovation, universities contribute to the development of groundbreaking ideas and solutions to real-world challenges. This fosters a culture of creativity and pushes the boundaries of what is possible in different fields, driving societal progress and improvement.

4. Networking and Collaboration: Engaging in entrepreneurship provides students with ample networking opportunities. They can connect with mentors, industry professionals, and like-minded peers who can offer guidance, support, and potential partnerships. Building these connections early on can open doors to future opportunities and collaborations.

5. Personal Growth: Entrepreneurship challenges students to step out of their comfort zones and take initiative. Through this process, they gain self-confidence, develop leadership skills, and learn to overcome obstacles. These experiences shape their character and contribute to personal growth, preparing them for the demands and challenges of the professional world.

Additionally, the doubled grand prize enhances the prestige and recognition associated with winning the Pelican Cup. This recognition can serve as a powerful credential for future endeavors, whether it be securing investment funding, attracting potential business partners, or gaining recognition in the entrepreneurial community. The increased prize money not only provides a financial reward but also opens doors to countless opportunities and potential partnerships. When it comes to the Pelican Cup Competition, the winners are not just ordinary university students – they are trailblazers and disruptors in the world of business. These individuals have harnessed their entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas to create businesses that have had a lasting impact.

The Press Conference was also attended by many community leaders including, Mayor Friday Ellis, City of Monroe.

This announcement has stirred already an extreme force of excitement for those who are involved. One of the other big parts of this initiative is there is now a $250,000 Business Development Fund that is being prepared for qualified winners that will allow them not only to win the competition, but also a chance to have their LLC or business plan funded with startup money! It just keeps getting better. All of this is possible because of the generosity of Mr. Dhu Thompson and a host of donors and supporters.

We are even more secured because of the guidance of who I call a genius, Dr. Michelle McEacharn, Dean of ULM College of Business. It was all smiles and excitement for her today and this is what she had to share with our newspaper about the big news:

Andy: Dr. Michelle, excitement is brewing for ULM'S huge announcement, can you speak on how amazing this leap is for this program?

Dr Michelle: We are so excited that it is going to be Statewide this year while that was initially our goal when we started when we started just less than 3 years ago we recognize what this will do in our community and we know that this competition is to train these students and we prepare these students, that is helping change our small community and we want to do more than that and we don't want us to just be our small community. We also wanted to reach out and we also know our students come from different areas so we want to carry that out further. Louisiana definitely needs it we're not going to be one of those big corporate recruiters because that's just not happening for us. What do we need to do? We grow it ourselves, we can change our own by growing it ourselves, so that's why we're so dedicated to going across the state.

Andy: So, what do you see in the near future because it seems as if this is taking off fast, what do you expect to see in the next year or so when it comes to the advancement of The Pelican Cup?

Dr Michelle: There's several different ways we're looking for advancement from here of course today's announcement about the student innovation fund was a big piece to it yeah so not just competing in the Pelican cup and having that little experience but also helping these students start business and helping them learn how to be successful out in the world with what whatever their ideas is and trust me these kids are Innovative and they're coming up with some really good ideas. Additionally, even if they're not successful in their business the skills they develop when they go work for other employers, they're going to help employers keep from failing. So not only are they contributing to success but they're also successful by helping others not fail. So the student Innovation fund will help with both of those pieces. We also like to develop further to where it's more than just a track in business planning competition we're looking at two different plans of possibilities. I know one that's close to my heart is a high school competition we would like in conjunction with the Pelican cup to have a high school track where we've got high schools competing before they even get here so then that's getting them ready and when they get here that's just taking them even further. We do believe in some point also because it is growing so fast, we have to represent tracks for either a high growth industry versus a smaller business direction or potentially undergraduate to graduate programs.

Andy: Thank you Dean McEacharn for your oversight thank you for your innovation and most of all thank you for supporting entrepreneurship Because I'm an entrepreneur and with programs such as the Entrepreneurial Pelican Cup, our future is bright.

We were glad to have on-site for this announcement (from left to right) Shar'Tia Glover, COO of iConnect Newspaper and Nina Woodard, Public Education Coordinator, ASGE.

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