Entrepreneurship program launches with 13 students


The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.


Mike Menefee

Mike Menefee

 Jospeh Lakatos

Joseph Lakatos

As planned, the University’s new certificate and minor in entrepreneurship has attracted students from across campus, including majors in music, recreation, health promotions and business. Thirteen students are enrolled in the first class, “Entrepreneurship 2000 - Innovation.”

Jaclyn Waite, a music major from Cary, said “I always wanted to start my own business.

“I am taking this class to define the path to starting a business,” Waite said. “I am a vocalist, and I would like to own my own studio.”

Russell Weakley, a recreation management major from Iowa, wants to go into the family business.

“I want to be my own boss,” Weakley said. “My uncle owns a construction company, and I’m thinking of joining him.”

James Hampton is a business major from Rowland.

“I want to create jobs, especially in this county,” Hampton said. “Living near I-95 and U.S. 74 (future I-73), my idea is to start a warehouse, distribution and brokerage company.”

Entrepreneurship also runs health promotions major Shahnee Haire’s family. Her father is in construction and real estate in Durham.

“I’m interested in following in my father’s footsteps,” Haire said. “I would like to combine my health promotions training with a dance studio to promote physical fitness and health.

“This program is a great opportunity, and I’m really enjoying Dr. (Joe) Lakatos’ class,” she said.

Dr. Lakatos, a faculty member in UNCP’s School of Business, said “the chemistry of the class is one of high enthusiasm and spirit.”

“Most of the students demonstrate some of the key characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, including initiative, strong desire to learn and creativity,” he said. “The class is creating innovative ideas for businesses in the following industries: shipping, new media, consumer staples, health care, domestics, entertainment and education.  

“The students are conducting extensive research using the course tools learned thus far to assess feasibility of their business ideas,” he continued. “Some students are already in the process of developing Web sites, company trademarks and logos, business plans and employee handbooks, and the class is also organizing a consulting group to assist other entrepreneurs on campus and in the community using the knowledge gained in our program.”

Dr. Michael Menefee, UNCP’s Thomas Family Professor of Entrepreneurship, founded the program.

“Now students interested in starting and running their own business have an entrepreneurship certificate program and a minor in entrepreneurship to help them,” he said. “The profile of this class – with students from various majors and several with family businesses – is exactly as we planned it.

“If you have ever thought about starting your own business, being your own boss, or developing a new product or service, you may be interested in our newest programs for entrepreneurs,” he said.

The certificate program is five three-hour courses that are designed to help students start-up and sustain small businesses. There are courses in innovation start-up, sustainability, two upper division courses from the major field of study and a capstone course on how to develop a product or service and write a comprehensive business plan. 

The program is open to all undergraduate students in good standing.

Student feedback about the course has been very positive, Dr. Lakatos said.

“Several students have recently presented before their respective departments about the content and usefulness of the course and the entrepreneurship program,” he said. “Each class is built around a collaborative working atmosphere so that learning from multiple perspectives is optimized.” 

In each class, case examples are examined from which “lessons learned” are extracted, Dr. Lakatos said. He has meetings with each student outside of class time on a regular basis to further develop their ideas. 

The first major assignment is to prepare and submit an initial feasibility study focusing on product/service feasibility and market feasibility. Each student will submit and present a detailed feasibility study analysis, after which collaborative decisions will be made for potential courses of action which include:

  • Choosing the most effective business model, developing a business plan and proceeding with creating and operating a business.
  • Identifying additional scenarios for further study.
  • Deciding that a viable business opportunity is not available and moving to end the business assessment process.
  • Following another course of action.

For students who want additional training, a minor in entrepreneurship offers three small business courses in finance, marketing and law in addition to the three entrepreneurship courses in the certificate program. This minor can be used by any undergraduate student in good standing who is not a business major. 

Both the certificate program and the minor have the approval of the UNCP faculty and administration, UNC General Administration, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Interested students can enroll by contacting Dr. William “Stewart” Thomas, assistant dean of the School of Business by phone at 910.521.6859, or by email at william.thomas@uncp.edu.