Like many aspects of life since the beginning of the pandemic, the ENet program experienced some transformations in the most recent cohort. However, the consistent factor of life-changing, inspiring stories was still present.
Goodwin University excitedly anticipates the ENet presentation at our Pent Road open space each year; this year, our students presented via Zoom. With some students still awaiting their release and others clocked in at work, this was the most efficient method for them to share their hard work. Other than the location, this year’s student presentations were delivered with the same heartfelt and well-researched pitch. After a joyous rendition of “Happy Birthday” was sung for Goodwin’s President Mark Scheinberg, and ENet program director, Matt Connell, shared a brief word about the students’ hard work, the first presentation was brought to the podium.
Nine students were able to share their business plans. No two businesses were the same. Each business stemmed either from the passion students identified from their childhood or from a goal to detour others from the mistakes they may have made.
Matt shared how most students attend their first class with a passion or business goal already in mind. “They knew coming into the program, ‘this is the business I want to start, ‘” Matt says. So, the courses teach budding business owners how to articulate their passion into a successful business model. “Our job is to take your passion and help you break it down into ‘chunk-able’, actionable units [to] get to be the next Jeff Bezos.”
One student was able to bring the real world into the classroom as he shared the contract for a global distribution deal offered to his independent publishing company. With ENet, some students participate even when their businesses are already off the ground. The open nature of this year’s cohort allowed students to learn from one another’s success and ideas.
Previous cohorts have successfully launched barber shops, kettle corn shops, and trauma support non-profits. These thriving alumni make the goals of this year’s cohort doable and well within reach: clothing lines featuring the prayer of serenity that brings light and awareness to the substance abuse among the youth; non-profit community centers that provide support to the whole family; a dumping truck organization that cleans the community while boosting diversity. Each of these dreams has the potential to meet the needs of communities throughout Connecticut. As President Scheinberg said, “So many of you are doing what the world needs.”
As the ENet students continue to re-enter their communities, they’re bringing their inspirations of change and positivity back with them. As Danielle Wilken, President of the University of Bridgeport, paraphrased Vivian Greene’s applicable statement, “Life is not waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain.” Students of the ENet program are indeed dancing, with smiles and laughter to the beat.