Six Worcester State University students were recently accepted into the prestigious BNY Mellon Enactus Student Fellows Program. The national program involves an online course including modules on financial skills in a free market economy, project management, and entrepreneurial thinking. The students are Rachel Sharp, Fernando Ponce, Megan Foley, Skylar Alves, Lauren Banfield, Andre Laska, and Nicholas Brooks.
Students successfully completing the course and passing a proctored examination will receive a project management certification and the title of Certified Enactus Student Fellow. Ponce, a senior in business administration as well as the Director of Public Relations for Enactus at WSU, recently was asked what it means to be one of the accepted students.
Here are his responses, lightly edited for clarity.
Q: Can you describe a little bit about the BNY Mellon Enactus Student Fellows Program?
A: It’s a ten-week course where we get a project management title. With that title – it’s a pretty big title – they usually only give it to several people, but this year Enactus decided to give a bigger grant to allow for 150 people in the United States to grab it. Luckily, I was one of those that they allowed to take the program because it’s a program that, if it weren’t for this grant, would probably cost over thousands of dollars.
Q: What was the application process like?
A: We applied on our own. We just hoped for the best and put it in and they picked out applicants based on different criteria and different areas that they feel would apply most to this project management.
Q: How is being a Certified Enactus Student Fellow going to help you in the future?
A: I’m very excited. More so because after college I was thinking of having a project manager position. If I were to get the BNY Mellon certificate, that would be much more helpful. Along with my degrees, this certificate will probably help me even further.
Once we take the exam, which I’ve heard is very difficult, we should be able to find out if we’ve passed or not and if we’ve completed the program. Once we’ve completed it and if we’ve done well on the exam, they’ll recognize us at our national competition in May, in Kansas City, where they bring up the BNY Mellon Fellows. They also have a reception dinner, well actually a pretty large lunch, where they bring over Fortune 500 executives in a private dinner just for these BNY Mellon groups. I’m hoping it’s going to be a pretty good experience. Very exciting connections are going to be made from this program.
Q: How did you become involved with Enactus on campus?
A: I really wanted to make a change and make my experience at Worcester State completely different, so I realized there was an Enactus organization where they were actually making a difference in our community and making a better future for those who live here. I started going to that and I started just taking images, going out and helping out with the projects that they had, and then I realized that I started doing more and more and then I became very involved. And now I’ve gone to Regionals with them and we’ve completed Regionals and we’ve gone to Nationals. It’s been a really long journey with Enactus. They’re definitely my family now.
Q: What are some of the projects you’ve done with Enactus?
A: The Hector Reyes House is one of the biggest projects I’ve been part of. It’s a halfway house on Vernon Street in Worcester. We went into the Hector Reyes House and we started teaching them financial literacy. Most of them are Spanish, so my Spanish skills helped out a lot with the program. And we’ve helped them write checks and learn about their credit and are teaching them all the components of financial literacy. It was pretty impactful seeing their faces after completing the program at the graduation because some of them had never even had any type of ceremony like that.
Being part of Enactus has helped me personally, because I’m from Worcester, to connect back to Worcester in a way that I didn’t think was possible.
Q: What advice do you have for students who are looking to get more involved and help their community?
A: Definitely find something that makes you feel that you’re bettering people. I’ve learned that in the past couple years. Also, in job interviews what they really look for is to see how you’ve added value. By adding value to the community and helping other people it shows that you’re going to add value to that company or you’re going to add value to that person who you’re going to work for. Definitely look into helping out more people in some way, maybe it’s community service or maybe it’s joining a project like Enactus.