Young Students Inspired by PSU Entrepreneurs

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From Saint Matthew School
The adage “if you dream it, you can do it” was a message recently shared with the student entrepreneurs from Saint Matthew School in Tyrone. As owners of their own school based business, these young students had the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by inspiring entrepreneurs who are currently enrolled in the Sheetz Fellows Program at Penn State Altoona.
 
During a recent visit to the PSU Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence in downtown Altoona, the Board of Directors for the Saint Matthew School student run business, Rescue Aid, met with junior and senior students and their professor and Senior Director, Donna J. Bon. “This was an amazing opportunity for our young students to see what options are out there for them in the future as well as being inspired by the entrepreneurial stories and business advice the students from Penn State shared,” said Saint Matthew Advisor Steve Stoner. 
 
Each PSU student shared their own experiences of creating a business while still in high school and addressed specific questions the Saint Matthew group had related to their current business venture. Junior Jackson Boyer from Bellwood discussed the advantages of the programs available through PSU. “The Sheetz Fellows Program is more than just for aspiring entrepreneurs, it is meant for people striving to be at the top of their field—whether founding a start-up or not.  It has allowed me to develop robust critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as help me grow in the professional soft skills that are crucial for success such as public speaking, networking, and teamwork.
 
After sharing his experience at running a car washing business as a young teen, Hollidaysburg native and senior Brad Shaffer offered some advice, “I would suggest that you become comfortable with being lifelong learners. An entrepreneur is someone who is always innovating and solving problems, and a good way to solve problems is being well educated and building on what you already know.”
 
Follow your passion,” was the focus from senior Sam Fiore of Altoona. “The old adage, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life is very true. A common characteristic amongst successful entrepreneurs is that they have passion for what they do. A love for your practice makes working easy. Additionally, people take note of your passion and are more likely to support your business.” 
 
The students from Saint Matthew School felt the knowledge they gained was very beneficial. “We had questions about the best way to market our product locally, how to set a price, and even picking a name,” said fourth grader Hannah Narehood. “It was so nice how they talked with us and helped us out.”
 
“What excited me was to find out I could apply to a young entrepreneur program once I am in sixth grade. They made is sound like so much fun and it would really help me with my new invention,” added fifth grader Will Stadtmiller.
 
When speaking of his young guests, Shaffer commented, “I enjoyed seeing the next generation of students being much farther ahead of the curve than I was at their age. I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was until I was in high school, and here they are starting their own business. It gives me hope that the entrepreneurial spirit will continue to grow in our community.”
 
Fiore added, “It was inspiring to meet young students with such a passion for entrepreneurship. Their experience level is very impressive at their age. I cannot wait to see what they go on to accomplish.”
 
Saint Matthew fourth grader Grayson Vaughn expressed his gratitude to his PSU hosts. “Because you took time to talk with us it made me feel very happy and excited. You inspired me to be a better business owner and boss.” The elementary age students run a service product business where all profits are donated to charities in order to fulfill their mission of “helping those in need.” The program replicates all aspects of business ownership from product design to production, marketing, ordering, and sales.
 
Earlier in the day WTAJ studios hosted the Saint Matthew students by providing a tour of the facility, showing them how local shows are produced, and how businesses use television for marketing. “It was so cool to watch them film Studio 814,” said student Quinn Markel, ” and Ms. Petner and Ms. Koziar were really encouraging and nice to us.”
 
“I love watching the news and when Christy Shields let us use the green screen, that was the best,” exclaimed sixth grader Bianca McLaughlin. 
 
“To see so many local professionals reach out and embrace the dreams and enthusiasm these young children have was inspiring for me,” classroom teacher Marjorie Frank concluded. “This day not only helped reinforce how the academics we do in class are important to their future success, but it gave them a belief in their own abilities which is immeasurable.”
 
Additional information on work being done by the student run business can be found by visiting the Saint Matthew School Tyrone website and Facebook pages and details on the Sheetz Fellows Program at psu.edu/sheetzcenter.