UNCP Confers First Entrepreneurship Degrees


UNC Pembroke awarded its first-ever degrees in entrepreneurship during Winter Commencement 2013.

Michael Yerry and Jennifer Crow were recognized on December 5 at a luncheon in the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurship minor is available to business administration majors. The School of Business also awarded entrepreneurship certificates, which are available to students of any major.

A football player at UNCP, Yerry also took home $300 for finishing second place in the elevator competition, which consists of a 90-second business pitch. Crow, who played on the golf team, won the elevator competition and $500.

Shanetta Monk, Joshua Shanks, Qualen Shipp and Zachery Ward earned certificates. The certificate program and the minor require 15 hours of courses.

Dr. Mike Menefee, the Thomas Family Professor of Entrepreneurship, said six great students are graduating. “But, stay in touch; we’d like to know what you are doing,” Dr. Menefee said. “Remember, the Thomas Center is here if you need it.”

The entrepreneurship program director, Dr. Menefee initiated three entrepreneurship programs at UNCP, including a concentration in the MBA program. Philanthropist Jim Thomas, a Pembroke native and Los Angeles real estate developer, launched the programs by funding the endowed professorship in entrepreneurship as well as the Thomas Center, a small business development program.

The graduates are a diverse group with one thing in common - plans to start businesses. Dr. Rami Maysami, dean of the School of Business, reminded the graduates that entrepreneurship is an asset in any enterprise.
“I encourage you to do what you learned here and start a business,” he said. “But do not forget, that whatever you do, entrepreneurship gives you a competitive edge.”

Not surprisingly, many of these enterprising graduates worked during college. As part of their studies if entrepreneurship, they learned how to write a business plan.

Ryan Riddle, who plans to get an MBA, worked as the Thomas Assistant. “I was the marketing manager for a biotechnology development project at the Regional Center,” said Riddle, who was a music major. “I hope to get some experience on the business side of music. Music is entrepreneurship.”

Joshua Shanks, who earned an entrepreneurship certificate, played football at UNCP. He will convert his part-time job with Enterprise Rent-A-Car into a full-time job. At some point he would open a specialty restaurant that features salads.

Qualyn Shipp is one of the most familiar faces and names on campus. As a broadcasting major, he appeared on camera often as WNCP-TV reporter, on the news desk and as a commentator for sporting events. Shipp also played football.

Shanetta Monk is an artist and a digital art major. She plans to get a job and take some prerequisites to get a graduate degree in art therapy. Like the other young entrepreneurs, Monk’s ambition is to start a business.

Jennifer Crow sums up the spirit of UNCP’s young entrepreneurs. Music is her first love, but there wasn’t time for music in college because of the demands of playing golf, which she says “paid the bills.”

Crow has a job lined up in logistics at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, N.C. She plans to earn an MBA in information technology management, but music is still on her mind.

“As an entrepreneur, my goal is to open a recording studio,” Crow said.

As they head off in different directions, these graduates are not likely to forget they are entrepreneurs. As UNCP’s entrepreneurship programs gain momentum, we may be hearing exciting stories from its graduates in the future.