Dear class of 2017,
Welcome to the college years, a period when you’ll rediscover yourself, meet new influencers, and ask powerful questions. During this time, arguably the most vibrant years of your life, you’ll almost certainly be swept into the tumult of a student’s life. You’ll also face some amazing experiences that you will cherish for years to come. But most importantly, you’ll devote yourself to something — be it in academia, sports, or the arts.

Your college major often serves as the compass for this enterprise, and your courses guide the direction of your journey. Amidst these endeavors, however, it’s important to recall the power of creativity — the same creativity you harnessed as a child, building your favorite Lego creation, or finding a way to make your lemonade stand business a whopping success. As we focus more and more on our major and job opportunities, we so easily forget the power of an idea and the disruptive impact it can have on not just you, but everyone around you.

I’m speaking of entrepreneurship —  a tool to open your mind to creativity in any industry or pursuit. Simply put, it’s one’s ability to turn an idea into a creation, and it’s exploding in college campuses around the world.

Entrepreneurship offers creative freedom, something powerful that can not easily be acquired at school. Creative freedom allows you to work on an endeavor that demonstrates your deepest interests, values, and aspirations.

There are a wide variety of benefits to pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor: you can promote important social ideas, attract funds through a product, or make something that can truly revolutionize mankind.

Based on the above description, entrepreneurship surely sounds like a tall order. However, you can work your way to creating something meaningful and successful from just a few resources. For one, UR offers several entrepreneurial courses, undergraduate programs, and an incubator to help students develop their ideas. However, to get started with entrepreneurship, all you need is an idea and a sufficient amount of passion to pursue it.

Take a look at Venmo, founded by Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail. The two were originally randomly paired as freshman roommates at the University of Pennsylvania and together came up with several entrepreneurial ideas during their stay, such as a classified ad  service for Penn students and an online iTunes competitor. Their idea for Venmo, one of the most popular mobile apps today, stemmed from a rather serendipitous occasion: Magdon-Ismail had forgotten his wallet, and so he paid back Kortina with a check to cover his expenses for the weekend. The two then realized that there should be a web service used to pay each other back. This need bore Venmo, a mobile app allowing friends to exchange money and make easy payments. With a little creativity and tenacity, the two college roommates have disrupted the mobile payment industry, all stemming from some initial brainstorming in their dorm room as undergrads.

So as you begin to dive into your college ambitions, class of 2017, don’t forget to keep your creative engines revving. At any point in your next four years, you may come across an idea that has the potential to effect change onto the entire world. Don’t drown in the sea of academics; rather, stay afloat with innovation. Find the entrepreneur within you.

Hinson is a member of the class of 2016.



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