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Shuford Funding Story – with Ami Patel

Recently, through Shuford, I was able to travel to Detroit, Michigan to attend the Forbes Under 30 summit, which hosts the nation’s most promising entrepreneurs. The summit is a packed 4 day experience filled with networking, panel discussions from renowned speakers, performances from artists, and startup exhibitions. Here, I was able to connect with students working on ventures from a variety of fields, as well as learn from speakers and current entrepreneurs across all industries. It was truly inspiring to see people from so many different backgrounds tell their own individual stories of how they got to where they are. However, I noticed they all have one thing in common: pure grit and ambition. Further, witnessing this also allowed me to reflect on my journey with where I have come from, as well as the direction I strive to head in.

Throughout my earlier years at UNC, I constantly struggled to find my fit, and eventually became accustomed to pursuing something I knew did not match who I was. For these two years, I took traditional lecture courses, studied, and was involved with a couple of clubs, ultimately thinking that this was just the way college was supposed to be– even if I felt that something was missing.

At the start of my junior year, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to start to change the lifestyle that was not conducive to my passions; there was so much I wanted to do, but just did not know how to get there. This is when I learned about the Shuford Program and got involved by taking Econ 125, and applying to the entrepreneurship minor. Later, as a new member of the Shuford Program, a door to a multitude of opportunities, that I did not know could have ever existed, opened. This was freeing and exciting because I finally found a group of students, faculty, and professors that shared the same driving passion that I possessed. Beyond the collaborative and insightful classes, Shuford also provides students with hands-on experience through networking and learning events, mentorship, support, and a sense of community to help foster and grow ideas, no matter how big or small. At this point, I had been able to fully express my innovative spirit, and wanted to be as involved as possible by always leading with passion— Shuford allowed me to do just that.

The newly instilled sense of empowerment allowed me to keep going and continue to seek out the right people across a variety of sectors to help me achieve my goals. Fast forward to now, I have been able to change the course of my education towards something that is supplemental to my ambition, which holds its roots on the basis of passion, innovation, and creativity, all in conjunction to help others. As a result, I have been able to culminate an interdisciplinary degree : “Business Administration and Information Systems Design within Public Health Entrepreneurship”, in addition to the entrepreneurship minor. Within this program, I  am able to engage in graduate-level course work across multiple professional departments, and work with professors and community members to progress my ideas into reality.

Currently, I am working on a social venture that aims to tackle the issue of food waste and food insecurity, by bridging the gap in between them. And, because of Shuford’s assistance for sending me to Detroit, I met the founder, of a similar venture, who now helps me with my venture, Catering Carolina. Overall, Shuford has helped me develop my idea into reality by supporting me and connecting me with a variety of stakeholders and resources. I am excited to continue with the tremendous support I receive, all with ultimate hope to give back to the same community that helped me.

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