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Club fosters RC students’ interests in entrepreneurship

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Written by Bradley Bommarito

Many students have probably had an encounter with Roanoke College’s Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation (CLEI), or they are at least aware of its existence.  The organization hosts several luncheons each month that allow students the opportunity to interact with guest speakers who have experience in business and entrepreneurship.  However, many students don’t know that there’s an active club on campus for all students who may be interested in the business world or entrepreneurship.

The Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) Club is an international student-led club that aims to inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurs and seek opportunities through enterprise creation. The club provides student entrepreneurs with opportunities, events, chapter activities, and conferences to help start their own businesses.

Steve Baker, an RC professor and director of the Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation, advises the club.

“The CEO Club is really the student-led initiative to increase entrepreneurship-related programming and opportunities for students,” Baker said. “In this context, I believe in giving these students – regardless of class, year, or experience, a hands-on, nearly fully autonomous management over the club. The result is a student-driven program that benefits students and helps develop career and professional opportunities, fosters a sense of community among involved students, and helps them to learn and increase individual management experience.”

Roanoke’s chapter of CEO elected a new officer team late last semester and has many exciting opportunities and events in the works through the fall. A short field trip to a local marketing firm, some informational meetings and lunches, and an open contest where teams can compete to win cash are currently being planned.  

“Being a part of this club is something I am very proud of,” said freshman Mary Sullivan, who is treasurer of the club.  “Watching it grow tremendously just in the semester I have been the treasurer makes me extremely happy, and I cannot wait for everything we have planned next year.”

Whether students want to go into business management or start their own businesses, or even if they just have general interest in entrepreneurship, CEO Club has something for everyone. A large part of being in the club is interacting with students who share similar interests.

Nick Croswhite, a freshman and president of CEO Club, has started an initiative to invite business leaders to speak on campus and to encourage students to visit companies to learn more about the business world.

Members are encouraged to get to know each other and to utilize the club for both personal and professional development.

“The CEO Club is a great place to talk about your own ideas and plans and to get valuable feedback in the developing of one’s own business interests,” said Baker.

Opportunities for networking and improving soft skills are huge advantages that the CEO Club aims to offer.

“CEO Club is about developing the skills and connections to help set our members apart from the competition in life, and as president, it is my goal to get us there,” said Croswhite.

CEO’s leaders are revving up to expand the club’s membership and to make it more attractive to students from all areas of academic study.

“As an executive team, we come up with new ways to constantly make this club bigger and better and filled with exciting activates that stay true to our entrepreneurial base,” said Sullivan.

Most CEO Club events are open to the college community, but students who wish to be more actively involved with the organization should sign up to be added to the roster. General meetings take place bi-monthly.  Interested students should contact Nick Croswhite at nacroswhite@mail.roanoke.edu.