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UNCP entrepreneurs turning business plans into action

July 23, 2014

UNC Pembroke’s Entrepreneurship Certificate Program graduated its largest class of 12 students. They met for an awards ceremony on May 7 at the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship.

The program, directed by Dr. Mike Menefee, graduated its 6th class. The entrepreneurship certificate is available to students with any major, and this group was diverse.

As their final project, the students develop a business plan for a start-up company. Some of these businesses will become a reality soon.

Matt Britt, a business administration major from Chadbourn, N.C., could not attend the awards luncheon because he and his partner are starting an auto repair business after Britt’s business plan won bank financing, said Dr. Mike Menefee, entrepreneurship program director.

elevator winners

Elevator competition winnersFrom left: Brittany Williams, LaVianca Ledbetter, Brandon McLean and Susan Wood


Brittany Williams, a biology major from St. Pauls, N.C., wrote a business plan to open a dental practice. She has been accepted to dental school.

LaVianca Ledbetter, a mass communication major from Gastonia, N.C., will open an event planning business.

Brandon McLean, a music major from Red Springs, N.C., will use his singing and piano playing talents to launch a music career. Since graduation, he has signed a contract to entertain for a major cruise ship line.

Susan Wood, an English major from Lumberton, N.C. will start a nonprofit company that matches employers with workers with disabilities.

Williams won first place and $500 in the annual elevator speech competition in which students pitch their business ideas in 90 seconds. Ledbetter won $300 for second place, McLean $200 for third place and Wood $100 for fourth place.

“This is a great group of students who I enjoyed working with,” said Dr. Menefee, who is the Thomas Family Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. “I am energized by this group, and I love listening to their plans for the future.”

The Thomas Center is a division of the Office of Engaged Outreach, which provides consulting to new and growing small businesses. Dr. Cammie Hunt, associate vice chancellor for engaged outreach, taught several of the graduates in their first classes in the program.

“When asked what motivates me everyday, the answer is easy,” Dr. Hunt said. “It’s right here in this room – our students.

“I am proud of you,” she said. “As entrepreneurs, you are the people seeking opportunities and taking the risks.”

Entrepreneurship takes many forms, even while in school. Ashlee Doughty, a business major from Fayetteville, N.C., and Joshua Lane, from Laurinburg, N.C., who double-majored in business and American Indian Studies, graduated in four years with no debt.

“I had an athletic scholarship and worked several internships,” Doughty said.

“I worked 30-35 hours a week at the Bookstore and as an intern at the Thomas Center,” Lane said.

Entrepreneur winners

Entrepreneurship Certificates – First row from left: Nigel Grant, Edgar Cristobel, Kyera Latrice Francis, Susan Wood and Brittany Williams. Back row from left: Brandon McLean, Joshua Lane, Kaitlyn Kelly and Ashley Daughty.

Honor cords were distributed to the 12 graduates were worn with their regalia during commencement ceremonies. The graduates were:

  • Matt Britt – Business Administration, Chadbourn, N.C.
  • Edgar Ariel Cristobal – Sociology, White Oak, N.C.
  • Ashlee Renee Doughty – Business Administration, Fayetteville, N.C.
  • Kyera Latrice Francis – Business Administration, Jacksonville, N.C.
  • Don Nigel Evans Alexander Mcguinness Grant – Business Administration, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Kaitlyn Kelly – Mass Communication, Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Joshua R. Lane – American Indian Studies & Business, Laurinburg, N.C.
  • Pat McMahon – Mass Communication, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Brandon J. McLean – Music, Red Springs, N.C.
  • Ashley Nicole Williams – Social Work, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Brittany Leigh Williams – Biology, St. Pauls, N.C.
  • Susan Wood – English, Lumberton, N.C.

UNCP offers an entrepreneurship minor and a track in the MBA program. For more information about the programs, please contact Dr. Menefee at (910) 775-4210 or email michael.menefee@uncp.edu.