Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Scholarship
The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program is a scholarship initiative targeted to students who have an interest in entrepreneurship and an enthusiasm for starting a business venture or leading a company.
The program was established in 2006 through a generous $1.7 million gift provided by David and Suzanne Hillman. The initial community college partnership was with Prince George’s Community College. The Hillmans renewed the commitment with an additional $1.7 million gift in 2009. In June 2012, the Hillmans committed to a third three-year commitment with a gift of $2.7 million that will expand the program to Montgomery College. Chosen for its quality education and its entrepreneurial approach, the expansion of the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program to Montgomery County is also a reflection of the Southern Management commitment to the county. Southern Management serves 11 communities in Montgomery County with more than 5,000 apartment homes and 15,000 residents. In addition, the company employs 400 individuals in the county and many of them live there. Their foundation works to create entrepreneurial leaders in the communities in which they live and work.
The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program offers a new model in education. Students who might not otherwise be able to afford a college education are now starting their college career at either Prince George’s Community College or Montgomery College and transferring to the University of Maryland to complete their degree in any major. They receive 2/3 tuition in scholarship funds as well as funds for books. They also receive deep mentoring from full-time mentors at each institution. Students participate in community and team-building activities while taking classes in entrepreneurship and leadership.
Students transfer to Maryland in pursuit of their bachelor’s degree where they continue to receive 2/3 of their tuition, books and a $1,000 merit scholarship. Starting Fall 2012, all Hillman students will pursue a minor in technology entrepreneurship as part of a new offering at the University of Maryland. With the expansion, up to 180 students will be receiving scholarships each year with 30 at each community college and up to 120 at the University of Maryland. The community college programs are second year programs with student selection occurring at the end of the first year to better determine potential for success. At Maryland the program is a junior/senior program.
This program is about training entrepreneurial leaders who will become the ethical leaders of tomorrow’s local economy. Just as David and Suzanne Hillman are giving back to the community that has brought them success, these Hillman Entrepreneurs are expected to contribute to the economic growth of the community and to help others who follow after them succeed.
Hillman students come from a wide variety of transferable majors, including engineering, math, information systems, accounting, business, psychology, education, art, and economics. Some are traditional, college-aged students, while others have had years of life experience and careers before joining the program. Some are raising families, while others are supporting parents who need them. Virtually all are working while going to school, and juggle many obligations, knowing that gaining a college education will help them build a better future for themselves and their families. Hillman students possess resilience, persistence, an entrepreneurial mindset, and the drive to finish their bachelor’s degrees and succeed in the business world as entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial leaders. Some students want to pursue non-profits to help others like themselves, while others plan to pursue businesses and become as successful as David Hillman, or the other successful entrepreneurs who they meet through the program’s networking opportunities.
Gül Branco, Director of Montgomery College's Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, interviews alumnus Wade Cassamajor.
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