Getting on an airplane for the first time was a big deal for two students from Premier High School of Fort Worth. Junior Delta Malone was not a fan of flying, but she really liked getting to see Washington D.C. for the first time. For sophomore Joshua Beaucicot, flying to Wichita for spring break and meeting new people was a great adventure.
“It was awesome. Meeting new people and getting out of my comfort zone made it fun. I liked venturing out and learning new things so I can be ready for the real world,” Joshua said.
For Delta, the trip changed her mind about college.
“Before going I knew for a fact that I wasn’t going to go to college. I didn’t want to go at all. But when I heard the stories of people who had gone and how YE had helped them, I thought ‘this could be me one day.’ As soon as I got home I started researching colleges,” Delta said.
As a part of Youth Entrepreneurs (YE) at Premier High School, Delta and Joshua had the special opportunity to take part in special events free of cost that helped them think about their future education and careers. Joshua was one of 50 students to participate in YE’s Spring Break Academy in Wichita. He was able to talk with business leaders and take part in hands-on business projects. Delta Malone was one of only ten high school students who were allowed to take part in the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Koch Scholars Program. While the event is only for current college students who are in the UNCF Koch Scholars program, every year a few YE high school students are selected to attend.
YE Fort Worth area manager Marlon Jones said the D.C. trip was more college focused while the Wichita trip focused on learning to think like an entrepreneur.
“Each trip was a little different. The D.C. trip was only for African American students to encourage them to apply for the $20,000 UNCF Koch Scholarship and to expose them to successful students and business leaders. The Wichita trip focuses on giving students a greater exposure to our foundational values as well as an opportunity to build on them through hands-on exercises,” Mr. Jones said.
Delta had the opportunity to hear from UNCF and Charles Koch Foundation leaders, visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, speak with college students and prepare a presentation on an African American who had had an impact on society.
“I am really glad I went. It was really good for me to meet new people and learn about my culture and background. I didn’t know a lot of the people in the museum’s exhibit,” Delta said.
The hands-on business projects he participated in changed how Joshua thinks about his YE class. From giving advice to a woman who had a non-profit that connects teenage boys with summer farming jobs to choosing the most profitable place to run a hotel, he realized the importance of thinking about how you can help others while helping yourself.
“If you want to start your own business, this was great. I came back with a different view, before I wasn’t as serious about YE, but since going I have hope that starting my own business is actually possible,” Joshua said.
Since the students began the program at the beginning of the school year, Mr. Jones has seen many of the YE students start taking their future seriously.
“Josh is one of those students in particular who has shown tremendous growth from the beginning of the program until now. He has really been dedicated in taking advantage of the opportunities. I remember for our first pitch-it opportunity, he took three buses to get there,” Mr. Jones said.
Because of their experiences inYE, both Delta and Joshua want to own their own business. Delta hopes to open an art studio and teach people how to draw. However, from her experiences in YE, she knows she will need to think seriously about choosing the right location and finding her market. She also knows she will need to find a partner who can manage the financial side of the business because it is not her strength.
Joshua wants to own his own music production business. He has already started writing music and putting a business plan together in YE class with his partner. He has learned to take responsibility for his own future, but he also recognizes that he will need the help of other people to succeed.
“One thing I learned is that you can’t do it by yourself. One of the activities we did in Wichita was to build a tower with blocks, but you had to trade with people to get the blocks you needed. We lost the game in the end because none of us got the green block because we didn’t think to ask the organizers for it. You have to think outside the box, build connections and network,” Joshua said.