By Johanna Hoffman ’17, communication major

Entrepreneurship is a mindset that McPherson College implements in many ways. Students, faculty, and staff are provided opportunities to flex their entrepreneurial spirit and encourage expanding horizons through innovation, originality, and initiative to seize new opportunities. Jump Start Kansas was started six years ago and is an opportunity for high school and prospective students to get an inside look at the entrepreneurial program.

McPherson College receives concept ideas from high school students across the state each year. This year, 17 students were invited to campus to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges from the college. After presenting their concepts, each participant is granted up to $500 from the college to put their idea into action.

McPherson College President Dr. Michael Schneider says promoting entrepreneurship opportunities for high school students benefits the participants and the college.

“Jump Start Kansas is different than recognizing someone for their academic, artistic or athletic abilities. We value student ideas and their entrepreneurial spirit, and we hope that a few students get a chance to see that we are a good option for them to pursue their idea as a McPherson College student.”

Lizbeth Gonzalez of Independence, Mo., was a finalist with her idea for an online shopping app that allows customers to visualize what clothes would look like on before they purchase them. To her, entrepreneurship is about coming up with ideas to improve people’s lives.

“I’m always ecstatic about coming up with new ways to make the life of the consumer a tad easier. Being an entrepreneur is having the mindset of someone that is creative, bold, and looking for new ways to facilitate and build up the community.”

Yanet Cecenas-Salazar of McPherson, Kan., proposed an idea for a pet hotel. She says for her, the key to successful entrepreneurship is being able to think outside the box and not overthink an idea.

“Being an entrepreneur is a great skill. It lets you become a leader and gives you critical thinking skills.”

Schneider was particularly impressed with this year’s Jump Start Kansas participants and their well-developed concepts.

“More students came with ideas in the execution stage—they are coming in with ideas that they are already trying.”

The finalists for Jump Start Kansas were:

Sierra Brown, Lansing, Kan.: quilt designing business
Daphne Cassanova, Wichita, Kan.: Youga – traveling yoga studio
Yanet Cecenas-Salazar, McPherson, Kan.: Pet Hotel
Ja’River Dunlap, Kansas City, Mo.: Nonprofit youth volleyball organization
Lizbeth Gonzalez, Independence, Mo.: Estilo – shopping app that helps shoppers visualize what they’re buying
Kiara Grimes, Wichita, Kan.: Affordable daycare for low-income families
Demetrius Jobe, Hutchinson, Kan.: All-natural smoothie business
Anthony Loya, Kansas City, Kan.: Dental IT company
Paige Houchen, McPherson, Kan.: Incentive implementation for installing breathalyzer ignition interlocks
Regan Pourner, Wellington, Kan.: Grocery delivery service
Paige Rickman, McPherson, Kan.: App that connects people of different political views, allowing them to learn from one another
Taylor Rico, Wichita, Kan.: ΧΡΩΜΑ – all natural and customizable makeup line
Jack Setser, Wichita, Kan.: Build-your-own crepe shop, with different flavors of crepes and toppings
Stephanie Vickroy, McPherson, Kan.: Crème de la Crème – cat cafè that pairs with local humane society
Sara Wasko, Hanston, Kan.: App to allow people to easily publish thirty-second videos
Jarad Werner and Seth Coleson, Codell, Kan.: Company that designs a solar-powered drone capable of recharging battery at the same rate at which it is depleted by motor
Victoria Winger, Wellington, Kan.: Skirting Around – business focusing on homemade, custom fit skirts