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Turning students into entrepreneurs

Photo via Turner School Instagram

Discover, immerse, imagine and connect. Those four words might not make much sense on any other list, but at Bradley University’s Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, they are the four pillars of learning.

The Turner School was founded 10 years ago as of last October. The Turner School was the first independent school of entrepreneurship on campus. According to Interim Executive/Academic Director Dr. Eden Blair, that meant that they were not housed in a college of business. This allows the Turner School to work all across campus and not just with business-related majors.

At the Turner School, the directors pride themselves on creating a community for everyone and helping students succeed during their time here at Bradley. A new major titled Interdisciplinary Innovation was added back in 2021 and during the 2022 spring graduation, the Turner School had their first two graduates walk the stage.

“This was the first year that we had our own banner at graduation,” Blair said. “I got to go up and shake their [graduating students’] hands, it’s very exciting.”

The majors were not just added for fun, but for the betterment of student life. Blair said that the reason for implementing the new major was for those students who have their 90 credit hours but need to add on a few more to be able to graduate without a classic major. Some of the requirements within the major, besides the Bradley Core Curriculum hours, include six hour credits from entrepreneurship courses.

Turner School also has a program called Entrepreneurship Scholar. Students in this program engage in experiential activities such as the Social Impact Challenge Competition and the Big Idea Competition.

On campus, the Big Idea Competition is a huge hit with students. Students work together in teams and present their business concept to professionals in the field and receive feedback. At the end of it all is a cash prize totaling $20,000 and the competition is open to any student on campus.

As mentioned by Managing Director of the Turner School, Marcos Hashimoto, the Big Idea Competition has a positive impact on student success while at Bradley and after graduation.

First of all, there are not many hands-on learning opportunities in business here at Bradley, second is to get support and resources to come up with a business idea and grow it into an innovative business model,” Hashimoto said in an email interview. “Third is to live this amazing experience of presenting and defending a business idea in front of a panel of experts (just like Shark Tank) and finally, this can be the first step for these students’ business to move forward into something they can pursue after graduating.”

Blair recently attended a meeting with students who have participated in programs with the Turner School and was told that even if they don’t plan on starting a business directly out of school, the programs have given them a way to take their ideas and turn them into reality.

Students also informed Blair that through the competitions, they felt as though they have experienced personal growth and become more confident about their ideas.

“Our doors are always open,” Blair said, “If anyone has thought about starting a business or just has an idea they have been tinkering with, come on by and talk to us. We’ve got lots of people to help you start thinking about that idea more in detail.”

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