Be the Hustle, Not a Part of it

Students found brainstorming in the School of Architecture.

Students brainstorming in the School of Architecture.

by Jaime Arribas Starkey-El
University Innovation Fellow, Morgan State University

On December 7, the Sunday before the start of finals week, Morgan State University students gathered for the first ever Be Your Own Boss (BYOB) Summit. The four-hour event was planned and facilitated by the Morgan Entrepreneurship Society Executive Board and their faculty advisor.

 In order to create buzz for the event, large neon brainstorming posters were strategically placed around Morgan State’s campus. The posters asked what came to mind when one heard words like Innovation or Entrepreneurship. The responses that were generated gave valuable insight into the creative minds of Morgan students, contributing significantly to the planning of BYOB.

 The event kicked off with active sessions that cultivated a spirited, attentive, and friendly atmosphere. First was a modified game of rock, paper, scissors. The game showed students that just because you don’t have your way, doesn’t mean you can’t be a winner. Next, students were given random topics from “renewable energy” to “Kanye West” and asked to brainstorm what came to mind when they heard that word (similar to the posters placed around the school). The students then played an adapted version of musical chairs in which they mingled to gain new perspectives for their topics.

Attendees trading ideas for their topics.

Attendees trading ideas for their topics

After a few rotations, attendees were asked “How might we draw connections between two card topics that may not typically be thought to relate?” Following this question, the students were split into random teams and tasked to form “creative collisions” for new venture ideas using their topics. After 10 minutes of synthesizing and devising, they then competed in a pitch competition. The winning group managed to turn “Nelson Mandela” and “Facebook” into an app that helps people find mineral markets in developing nations.

Attendees forming creative collisions.

Attendees forming creative collisions.

That session was preceded by a presentation on Being Your Own Boss. Attendees explored the differences between a hustler and an entrepreneur and why they should strive to “be the hustle” rather than be a part of it. They were shown how the lean business model canvas serves as a framework for startups to discover a profitable, sustainable business.  The attendees were also shown how the canvas could help them make efficient lifestyle choices, identify their major, volunteer their time, manage their budget, identify semester goals, or even choose a career. To conclude, they identified their startup type (small business, social, scalable, etc…) and learned about Moonshot ideas.

After the presentation, attendees participated in a lengthy entrepreneur/CEO panel discussion. The panel consisted of Marvin Johnson, a Morgan State alum who is the founder of an IT services firm, Justhink45, and Chiko Abengowe, the CEO and Founder of Perfect Office Solutions. Some key takeaways included the importance of building a strong network, maintaining a work-life balance, and identifying application-based platforms for managing ventures.

Entrepreneur Panel Session featuring Marvin Johnson of justhink45 and Chiko Abengowe of Perfect Office Solutions.

Entrepreneur Panel Session featuring Marvin Johnson of Justhink45 and Chiko Abengowe of Perfect Office Solutions.

 All in all, the event was a success despite the creative constraints of a 2 week planning process  and the removal of most of the brainstorming posters around campus. Both undergraduate and graduate students were in attendance and many majors were represented. It was good to see a lot of interdisciplinary collaboration taking place. The event showed students the power of working with like-minded colleagues in the realm of entrepreneurship. Students reported that they were inspired and never thought they could be so productive in such a short time. The BYOB is solid evidence that Morgan students are ready to participate in the creative economy, take direct control of their futures, and become their own bosses.

The Be Your Own Boss Summit was led by Morgan State University’s Entrepreneurship Society, below. Pictured left to right: Jaime Arribas Starkey-El (University Innovation Fellow), Iyanna Patterson (Secretary), Mareco Edwards (Treasurer), Chiko Abengowe (Perfect Solutions), Marvin Johnson (Justhink45), Mary Foster (Entrepreneurship Society Advisor), Adrien Feudjio (Vice President)

Morgan Entrepreneurship Society and guest speakers, Marvin Johnson and Chiko Abengowe.

Morgan Entrepreneurship Society and guest speakers, Marvin Johnson and Chiko Abengowe.


Fellow Jaime Arribas Starkey-ElAbout the author:

Jaime Arribas Starkey-El is a University Innovation Fellow at Morgan State University. Jaime has a strong passion for the possibilities of creativity and innovation. He loves to learn, he loves to discover, and he always wants to know more. As a Fellow, Jaime has worked to increase the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit on campus. His current goal is to bring a dedicated ICE (innovation, commercialization, and entrpreneurship) center to his campus. For more information, you can find a full bio here, along with his student priorities for Morgan State.

How You Can Join a Student-Driven Movement

Do you feel that there is a gap in the student learning experience as compared to the skills graduates need to compete in today’s economy? Do you feel that your campus would benefit from student-driven demand regarding experiential learning opportunities around innovation and entrepreneurship? If you answered yes to both of these questions — you have encountered 110 like-minded students representing 74 U.S. higher education institutions.

Students are joining a national movement* of undergraduate engineers who are changing the face of higher education — Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows (Fellows). Last year alone, students created over 20 maker spaces, founded student clubs and organizations, hosted events and workshops and even worked with faculty to design courses.

Epicenter’s Fellows program is a 6-week intensive and experiential online training program that introduces candidates to design thinking, lean methodologies and student-led change strategies. This knowledge leads students to build the necessary skills to implement lasting institutional change on their campus. Throughout training, candidates are exposed to a network of Fellows across the U.S. that enables them to share ideas, stories and key learnings around an array of resources and topics that bring innovation and entrepreneurship to campus.

Applications for the Fellows program are now live! The deadline is Friday, October 31, 2014. If you are a student, find more information about the program here and information about the application process here. If you are a faculty member looking to sponsor a student on your campus, find more information about the role of a faculty sponsor here and more information about Epicenter’s mission here.

To read the full press release about the October 31 application deadline, and to find more information about Epicenter, click here.

*The National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA). Our mission is to change undergraduate engineering education, but Epicenter’s University Innovation Fellows considers all majors.

Upcoming Deadline (June 30): University Innovation Fellows Program

When you’re paired with a group of motivated and energetic individuals, anything is possible.”  – Elliot Roth, University Innovation Fellow, Virginia Commonwealth University

After training 66 University Innovation Fellows this past spring, 110 students from 78 different institutions across the nation have come together to build a more experiential learning system for undergraduate engineers and their peers on campus.

Fellows join this movement to better the higher education system as a whole for their current and future peers. There was a moment for these Fellows when they decided that they needed something more from their higher education, something to challenge them more emotionally and mentally. These Fellow’s have been told “No;” been told they are “Crazy;” and been told countless other negative things about their visions for their future. The University Innovation Fellows program is a peer-based environment to support these students. The program allows Fellows to build a network of support for their visions and their ideas for the future. There is an overwhelming sense of pride, inspiration and amazement when these students come together and to define themselves as the economic future of our nation.

These 110 Fellows understand our nation needs us. That our future depends on us. They are leaders, followers, students, entrepreneurs, innovators, problem-solvers, hard-workers, professionals, teammates, mentors, mentees, owners, influencers, and visionaries. Fellows are changing institutions of higher education one at a time, while tackling the nation’s largest problems as a whole. They are taking their degrees into their own hands, creating an experiential learning environment and challenging the boundaries of traditional education systems. These Fellows work with administration, faculty, deans, congressmen/women, and students. They are building the future we currently dream about.

Fellows have surpassed just creating awareness on campus around innovation and entrepreneurship and are building lasting institutional change through events, workshops, makerspaces, venture funds and curriculum. Last year, Fellows created more, built more and designed more. The lasting institutional impact is being scaled by efforts through Leadership Circles.

There are 5 days left to apply for the fall cohort (deadline: Monday, June 30). The application can be found here. If you have further questions, please post them below so we can share the Q&A with other visitors. We will respond in a timely manner. If you would like to speak to someone directly, please contact Humera Fasihuddin at or Katie Dzugan at, (413) 341-1663. We are extremely excited to get to know our new candidates this fall!


Katie Dzugan
UIF Program Associate