This year, Harvard Business Services is pleased to name Samantha Nielsen, a student at the University of Utah, our Student Entrepreneur Scholarship winner!
This annual award, entering its third year, is our way of recognizing and supporting the young entrepreneurs pursuing both an education and their business aspirations and looking to combine them to build a successful, rewarding company.
The winning idea Samantha wrote about in the required essay described a non-profit enterprise focused on individualized learning through the use of study coaches. In particular, the business would seek to address the lack of resources typically available to “neurodivergent” students – that is, those who do simply do not learn as well as others through the standard tools and formats, such as writing essays.
Samantha, who self-identifies as neurodivergent and has ADHD, has dealt first-hand with the issues they intend to take on.
“The moment that I realized that there need to be more individualized learning was when I was speaking to my friend about how we (people with ADHD) handle course work and studying,” Samantha told us. “My friend had to fight over a year for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) only for them to get very limited resources. The current system is not suited for personalized needs of a single person.”
Of course, individual tutors and other third party resources do exist already, working with students who are struggling or just want the additional reinforcement to their education. However, these resources are not always available or accessible to those who need them most, due to limited supply and high price points and hourly rates.
Samantha has taken the initial steps to bringing the non-profit, currently known as Learning Divergent, to life, but knows the majority of the work lies ahead. One consideration already on their radar is the dissemination of information about the organization. Just as the audience they seek to serve needs a variety of formats and media available, Samantha wants to communicate Learning Divergent’s services in multiple ways.
“After the foundation for the organization has been laid down, our biggest goal will be gathering all the information to on how to succeed in your own way and making it as accessible to students as possible through lectures, webinars, readings, audio recordings, etc.”
As with most services and companies that seek to augment resources available to students, a major challenge is likely to be the process of getting buy-in from schools and universities. Samantha intends to bring the idea first to the University of Utah, where they currently study, and grow from there.
The Student Entrepreneur Scholarship award will support Samantha’s pursuit of a Management and Marketing curriculum, helping them develop a more complete understanding of how gain visibility and adoption of services that Learning Divergent will offer.
Harvard Business Services wishes Samantha tremendous success through college and into the world of non-profits!
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