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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Envision Lead Grow Camp Inspires Young Girls to Dream Big

By Noell Saunders

Without risk, there's no reward, entrepreneur Angela Reddix told young female students at Old Dominion University's recent Envision Lead Grow camp.

Reddix offered her own family history as an example.

At the age of 16, her mother graduated from high school as the valedictorian. Shortly after, she became pregnant with Reddix. Reddix was born in public housing and raised by her grandmother while her mother attended the University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship. Her mother later received a law degree from New York University.

Reddix -- who, like her mother, earned multiple degrees and is CEO of the Norfolk-based IT consulting firm ARDX -- shared her life story in hopes of inspiring the girls to push through life's uninvited circumstances.

"We as young girls and women have to make decisions that delay what might feel good today for something that is better for us tomorrow," she said. "It's not about how you start; it's how you finish."

Old Dominion's Strome Entrepreneurial Center hosted the weeklong Envision Lead Grow camp, where the aspiring female entrepreneurs learned how to code at the University's computer labs, developed mission statements and elevator pitches for their businesses, and participated in a variety of career-building workshops.

Reddix said she started the camp to help the young women turn their dreams into reality. Most of the girls ranged from fifth to ninth grade and came from diverse backgrounds and cities including Memphis, Atlanta, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

"Three years ago, we piloted this program with just 20 girls," Reddix said. "Last year, we took it on the road to seven states, and we had the opportunity to work with more than 500 girls."

Reddix has a bachelor's degree in business administration from James Madison University, a master's in organizational development from Bowie State and recently earned her Ph.D. from Oklahoma State.

Nancy Grden, executive director of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, told the girls: "Entrepreneurship is for everyone. Whether you are interested in music, art, health care or solving social problems, it doesn't matter. There's a role for innovation in every block of life."

Carol Considine, assistant dean for outreach in ODU's Batten College of Engineering and Technology, served as the camp's opening speaker. She encouraged those interested in engineering to also think about becoming innovators.

"Engineers are problem solvers, but as engineers we need to be entrepreneurs," Considine said. "We need to be able to take these ideas and designs that we create and develop them into marketing products."

Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick offered inspiring closing words to the girls.

"I hope you continue to think big and dream big," said Broderick. "Don't let anyone tell you any idea is a bad idea. There's a lot of people in this world today who have made a lot of money from a bad idea."

For more information about Envision Lead Grow or to become a mentor or student, visit the organization's website.

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