I work as the chief business relations officer in the Engler program. I’ve been with the Engler program for about five years. I graduated from UNL with my undergraduate degree in agribusiness and entrepreneurship and graduated with my master’s degree in business a couple years ago. I currently live in Tampa, Florida with my new wife for one year. She’s a first-year resident here at the University of South Florida. Then we’ll come back and live in Nebraska after this year, so I get to be a Floridian for a bit.
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I am the chief business relations officer for the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program. I try to help people start businesses, whether it’s students, community members or high schoolers. I teach classes and run programs that try to help more people go from the sidelines into the world of entrepreneurship. I lead a couple of programs like Launch, which is a high school program to start businesses, our Fellow program where we give students $5,000 to start businesses, our Build Camp program, which is where we help students go from an idea to actually building a business line and testing out their business model. Generally, I just help people get started.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I think what originally got me here is that I was a state officer. I was going to the University of Nebraska-Omaha for a year as an undergraduate student. I then decided to get into agriculture, so I transferred to UNL and then from that, I just kind of stayed. I was a part of the Engler Program for four years as a student, and after college there was an opportunity with the Engler Program and I was working for a start-up, so it was kind of an easy transition to start part-time with the university, which transitioned to a full-time job. This has been a great opportunity.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I just enjoy being around so many different ideas. I think that’s what’s really fun in this educational setting, especially in entrepreneurship when people are coming from so many different industries and so many different ideas, so there’s this constant flow of excitement. My favorite part within that is when people go from “I’m not really sure I can do this” to “Oh, entrepreneurship is a pathway for me. I can build something.” That self-confidence and self-esteem really raises and then they start to actually build things, and their life goes in a different direction. Normally it’s one with much more freedom, much more flexibility and closer to the purpose that they want to pursue, so that’s what’s really exciting.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I consider getting to be a part of Engler and getting to help steer Engler towards a vision that’s really big on how we want to serve and be a force for entrepreneurship in the Midwest is my greatest achievement. The work we do to continually steer ourselves towards that and be a program that has grown every year is fun. We’ve hit some really big milestones. That’s what’s really exciting to me is just to be a part of that. We had the first company acquired recently from the Engler program and lots of people have foregone a traditional job, pursuing an entrepreneurship pathway. That continual progress and seeing more people pursuing entrepreneurship with the thought process that we put behind it is motivating.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
When I was really little, I was in a Baby Einstein video called “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. This company came to our town and did B-roll every year and captured a bunch of film and one day they picked the one that I was in.
What is your life like outside of work?
Right now, I’m trying to pursue my own entrepreneurship pursuit and get that off the ground on the side. Being new to Florida, we’ve been spending time exploring the state. We’ve been checking out different beaches and things like that. With recently being married, that took up a lot of my focus. Outside of that, I like do woodworking, golfing, kayaking and spend time with my new wife. I love country concerts, so I enjoy going to those when I get the opportunity. I am trying to learn guitar and rowing, also called sculling, because Tampa is a big sculling place.