OWU launches entrepreneurial scholars program

The Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship at Ohio Wesleyan University is launching the interdisciplinary Carol Latham Entrepreneurial Scholars Program for students seeking to become the next generation of business trailblazers.

“The Latham Entrepreneurial Scholars Program (ESP) is for students who want to be entrepreneurial thinkers, whether that be within a corporation or on their own,” said Daniel A. Charna, assistant professor of economics. “The program will help Ohio Wesleyan students find opportunities, see and maneuver through the path, and have the mindset to bring their ideas to fruition.”

The Latham Entrepreneurial Scholars Program is a two-year program that, once underway, will enroll five sophomores and five juniors from all majors following a competitive application process. As sophomores, participating students will participate in a special seminar class covering topics ranging from scientific method/problem-solving to critical thinking/strategic thinking/vision.

As juniors, they will translate classroom theory into practice, spending fall semester creating their own solution for an existing entrepreneurial issue affecting businesses, nonprofit organizations, or government agencies. During spring semester, the scholars will develop their own entrepreneurial venture – creating the idea, conducting market research, developing a selling proposition, and designing a business plan and/or marketing materials, such as an app or website.

Latham ESP students also will complete an internship with an entrepreneurial focus and receive a stipend to help support their experience.

“Entrepreneurship is a mindset,” said Charna, who joined the Ohio Wesleyan faculty in 2013 after more than 30 years in the business world. “Our graduates learn the hard skills of their major, and the Latham ESP focuses on the soft skills, such as taking action on their ideas, persevering through the trials and tribulations associated with taking action, and building a community to support their actions and ideas. The lessons learned through the program will serve them well throughout their lives no matter where their career paths lead.”

The Latham Entrepreneurial Scholars Program is being created with a gift of time, talent, and treasure from OWU alumna Carol Latham, Class of 1961. A chemistry major at Ohio Wesleyan, Latham is the retired founder, president, and CEO of Thermagon, Inc., a custom manufacturer of high performance heat-transfer materials for electronic components. Under her leadership, Thermagon grew to sales of $18 million annually worldwide.

The Latham Entrepreneurial Scholars Program is open to sophomores and juniors who have achieved a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Candidates will interview with at least one Latham ESP committee member and submit a letter of reference from an OWU faculty member. Of the 2.0 grade-point requirement, Charna said, “Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes; we do not want to exclude a hard worker with high potential because of GPA.” The program will identify its inaugural scholars this academic year and launch in fall 2018.

Ohio Wesleyan’s Woltemade Center also offers an Economic Management Fellows program open to incoming freshman, an Accounting Fellows program for students interested in the financial field, and the Corns Business and Entrepreneurial Scholars program, which also supports OWU students with entrepreneurial aspirations.

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Woltemade Center at www.owu.edu/woltemade and more about the university’s Department of Economics at www.owu.edu/economics.

Special to The Gazette