Horizon LLC kicks off first week

Eighteen East Carolina University freshmen dipped their toes into the world of entrepreneurship last week as part of the university’s newest living learning community.

The Horizon Living Learning Community – one of ECU’s thematic communities designed to assist new Pirates during their transition to college – offers students the opportunity to explore and develop creative, innovative entrepreneurial responses to community needs. Students from different academic backgrounds, including biomedical science, education, engineering and business pathways, to name a few, live on the fourth floor of Gateway Hall – East.

While in the program, Horizon LLC students will participate in courses that focus on entrepreneurship, money management and business development before launching a microenterprise venture in their final year.

Although their reasons for joining the program differ, expressing their creativity and having a chance to help others were common themes for students seeking out the Horizon LLC.

A group of Horizon LLC students build a raft as part of a team-building exercise at Cable Paradise Park in Ayden.

“I was initially drawn to Horizon because I have been dedicated full time to giving back to the community – especially to causes in North Carolina – since I began my charitable organization, Art For Unity Charlotte,” freshman D’Mya Sanford said. “I’ve held several charity art shows, managing about 30-40 people at a time and donating to charities including Safe Alliance, NAMI-Charlotte and No Kid Hungry N.C. I’d like to use these skills to benefit communities around eastern North Carolina as well.”

ECU student Katherine Foster said she believes the program will provide her a creative outlet.

“In high school, I had a lot of big ideas and was involved in Project Lead the Way courses that allowed me to showcase my creative side,” she said. “I wanted somewhere I could use that creativity at ECU. I thought the Horizon LLC looked really exciting because it was an outlet I could share my ideas and make something meaningful out of them.”

Along with a traditional undergraduate degree, Horizon LLC students have the chance to earn an entrepreneurship certificate from the Miller School of Entrepreneurship. Students will also participate in National Science Foundation I-Corps training, network with other students and faculty, and meet with local business leaders.

“I think the Horizon LLC will expand my boundaries and enrich my experience at ECU,” Foster said. “We can talk to anyone in the LLC about their courses and what they’re taking; it’s going to help me get a better feel for college. Being a part of the LLC is going to give me opportunities to talk to others, practice my communication skills and forge connections before I get into a specific academic program.”

Provost’s message

In the LLC’s first student development course Aug. 22, Provost Ron Mitchelson discussed the importance of ECU’s mission to serve rural communities and how students can aid economic development by creating new businesses in the region.

“When you sign up for something like this, you’re not only going to be experts in the field, but you’re going to be doers,” Mitchelson said. “You’re going to use your creativity and knowledge to do good things.

“We believe that you’re going to be the future drivers of regional transformation and job creation in the region,” he said. “We don’t want you to have to leave here to work somewhere; we want you to stay here and be the ones to create the jobs. Don’t search for a job; build one. It’s an entirely different mindset, but one that I believe this community will accept, adopt and deploy during your four years here.”

Students also took part in team-building activities during their first week on campus, including meeting an ECU alumnus entrepreneur and a trip to Cable Paradise Park in Ayden. Students built homemade boats out of cardboard and duct tape, breaking the ice with their fellow community members before ever setting foot in a classroom.

Sanford said she’s already seeing a stark difference between high school and college life, but believes the LLC has been beneficial to her transition.

“College has given me a large amount of pseudo-free time because my classes don’t take up as much time as they did in high school,” she said. “However, the studying, social interactions, blocking out time to eat and sleep take up all of the ‘extra’ spare time I thought I had. My first week in the LLC has been very informative. Without the first few days of informational sessions and activities, I don’t think I would have known about the services and resources offered at ECU.”

Learn more at http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/horizonllc/.