BY JESSALYN KIRCHHOFF
This past fall, two students put Hays and FHSU’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) chapter on the map. From October 28-30, 2022, Luciana Mendoza and Nuria Garcia joined thousands of other Collegiate Entrepreneurs to attend the Annual CEO Global Pitch Competition. The pair were among the final 20 competitors out of hundreds of entrants.
Although Garcia has transferred to Slippery Rock University, she is still a close friend of FHSU and speaks highly of CEO. During her time at Fort Hays, Garcia was the Vice-President of CEO and Graduate Assistant of the Center for Entrepreneurship.
She sums up the purpose of the organization.
“The purpose of CEO was to introduce students to the adventure of being an entrepreneur. To try new things and to get out of our individual comfort zones,” Garcia said. “Sometimes we underestimate our capacities. CEO gives students a place to push those self boundaries.”
Mendoza, a new member of CEO, adds to Garcia’s statement with a synopsis of her own.
“The organization has the mission of leading people to think out of the box for innovative solutions to different issues,” Mendoza said. “They incentivize the entrepreneurial mindset from a very young age and the hard work for the success of your ‘crazy ideas.’ It also creates a great means of connecting people from around the world to help and learn from each other.”
Mendoza touches on her experience at the CEO Global Pitch Competition and said her favorite part of the competition was connecting with many talented young entrepreneurs.
“Many of them had developed businesses from scratch, and it was very inspiring to see how passionate they were about their ideas,” she said. “There was no sense of being self-centered. Everyone was willing to learn and teach each other based on our experiences. Everyone was so open to giving us tips for our newly created business plan (Uppreciate).”
Mendoza said the pitch included speaking to a panel of three judges and room of 25 people.
“The whole process of getting to that point with my partner, Nuria Garcia, was full of emotions. However, that adrenaline rush I felt minutes before presenting was an experience hard to put into words; My hands were sweaty, my heartbeat was racing, and it felt as if I could have passed out any second,” Mendoza said. “Controlling my mind and body to start pitching required discipline and self-control. It was really hard, but what amazed me the most was how all the anxiety, nervousness, and fears disappeared as soon as me and my partner started talking. We filled the room with energy and authenticity and connected with our audience.”
Garcia also had an extremely positive experience at the yearly competition.
“It was amazing from my point of view. Not only because of the competition per se, but the fact of attending the conference, connecting with a lot of contacts, and learning from so many different people,” she said.
President of CEO at FHSU, Jade Artzer, was also able to attend the 2020 Global Pitch Competition when it was hosted in Tampa, Florida during her first year at Fort Hays and deems it her most memorable moment of being in CEO.
“At the conference, I got to meet many individuals and learn about several new ways to be innovative,” Artzer said.
Artzer said you don’t need to have an entrepreneurial business already started before joining CEO, just an interest in entrepreneurship.
“There are many benefits, including networking and learning opportunities. Involvement is the key to success on campus,” Artzer said. “Being involved opens up multiple doors for you in your personal and professional life. CEO is here to be a line of support to those who are wanting to, or in the midst of starting their own business.
“Feel free to reach out,” she said.
Garcia also encourages students to get involved on campus through her own personal experience of not being involved during her first semester.
“When I started getting involved, my whole experience changed so much. I made so many more friends and realized how many opportunities FHSU has to offer,” Garcia said. “CEO is a great opportunity to meet people that might help you make your dreams come true or find what you really love in life.”
Mendoza emphasizes Garcia’s statement by saying that being involved in different campus activities makes everyone’s college experience unique, fun, and memorable.
“You can meet people that have the same objectives and mindsets you have and create long-life friendships,” Mendoza said. “Putting yourself out there even when it feels out of your comfort zone can get you many places. It can be hard at first to adjust to having to engage with different groups and adapt to various times and meetings, but it gets better. It actually teaches you time management skills. My schedule is busy because I am involved in many different things on and off campus. Still, I am confident that my college experiences would not be as impactful as they have been if I did not commit to this lifestyle.”
Mendoza also mentions the Faulkner Challenge, an entrepreneurial event that is coming up this semester.
“I encourage everyone to sign up. You create a business plan and compete with other people from other schools,” she said. “There are prizes and great learnings from experience. This is going to be my third time participating.”
Although the official dates and deadlines have not been posted for this year’s event, if you are interested in more information on the challenge, you can visit the webpage at https://www.fhsu.edu/cob/faulkner-challenge/ or contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FHSU CEO’s chapter will be hosting one meeting a month starting in February. Follow the club’s Instagram “fhsuceo” for more information regarding meeting dates, times and locations.
For more general information about CEO, you can visit their Tigerlink page at the following link https://tigerlink.fhsu.edu/organization/ceo .