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ODU Enactus Has Best-Ever Showing at National Expo

By Brendan O'Hallarn

The growth of Old Dominion University's student entrepreneurial club, Enactus, was recently recognized at the social entrepreneurial National Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri.

While the six-member Old Dominion team did not advance to the semifinals in the National Expo, it was named one of two runners-up in the highly competitive competition, which featured social entrepreneurial organizations from colleges and universities across the United States.

"The team was amazing, judges were very impressed, and many commented on what a huge accomplishment it is for Old Dominion to go this far in only three years," said Connie Merriman, associate dean of the Strome College of Business and faculty adviser for ODU's Enactus club. "The students have much to be proud of."

The ODU team was also a finalist in a corporate partner challenge, part of the National Expo competition, and won $1,000.

A six-student ODU team, along with two faculty advisers, will attend this year's National Expo. Akeyla Barbour, who served as president of the ODU team while a master's student and is now a full-time transfer success coordinator at the University, serves as Merriman's co-adviser.

The team members were Andrea Brzoska, Rebecca Loizides, Rahsell Owens, John Royal, Aaron Washington and Robert Lamb.

The theme of this year's ODU Enactus effort is "Believe in the power of entrepreneurial action." And the six projects that made up the submission show that that power has been harnessed to help the community on the Old Dominion campus and beyond, Merriman said.

The students' presentation encompassed entrepreneurial projects ranging from personal hygiene kits for needy students to a cooperative working space for student entrepreneurs to show their products on the University campus. The submission from ODU Enactus also covered corporate social responsibility partnerships with existing student entrepreneurial ventures.

"The ODU Enactus team is an outstanding group of students, and you are all to be commended on your progress," said Jeff Tanner, dean of the Strome College of Business. "We are grateful and appreciative of your efforts representing ODU so well."

Enactus team members worked closely with the University's Strome Entrepreneurial Center, the campus hub for entrepreneurial activity. Nancy Grden, executive director of the Strome Center, said the achievement of the ODU Enactus team members and the impact of their projects demonstrate how an entrepreneurial mindset can make a difference for more than the financial bottom line.

"This is a terrific showing for ODU, not to mention the collective impact of the chapter on the lives and futures of so many," Grden said.

Social entrepreneurship is one of the thrusts of the entrepreneurial initiative aimed at spurring business startups at Old Dominion. The concept received a significant boost with a gift of $11 million from the Strome Family Foundation in 2014, which was pivotal in the creation of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center.

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