Inspiring and Achieving with BYU Marriott's Women in Entrepreneurship

PROVO, Utah – Oct 31, 2019 – Ever since Taunya Brown was hired as events and programs manager at the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at BYU Marriott two years ago she has wanted to start a new women's student group that differs from others on campus.

Coming from the business world, Brown noticed room for improvement in the ratio of men to women in executive management roles. After looking at the statistics of how many women graduate and enroll in business programs at BYU Marriott and at other universities, she saw that while these numbers had improved in the past few years, there was still work to do. She decided that starting another support group for women, specifically those interested in entrepreneurship, could assist them by providing resources in the earliest stages of their careers.

At the beginning of Fall 2019 semester, the Rollins Center implemented Brown’s proposed vision through the creation of new student academic association called Women in Entrepreneurship. “The group is based on three different pillars: inspire, support, achieve,” says Brown. “We want to touch on all the aspects of female attributes that we naturally possess. We have amazing qualities that God has given us that can give us a unique perspective in the business world.”

The group focuses on building networks, hosting hands-on learning activities, supporting female students, and providing students with short internship and mentorship opportunities with other female leaders in business.

Brown says now is the perfect time to start empowering the women at BYU to succeed in entrepreneurship. “We have all of these opportunities and resources at our fingertips. If we have the support, the only barriers left are ourselves,” she says. “That’s our goal, to give women the skills they need to remove that barrier.”

Brown hopes that all BYU students, not just BYU Marriott students, will get involved with Women in Entrepreneurship. “Whether you’re a STEM student, an art student, or even a law student, every student, male or female, runs into entrepreneurship sometime in their career,” says Brown.

One such BYU student, undeclared sophomore Anika Behr from Bozeman, Montana, attended Women in Entrepreneurship’s first event hoping to find a community of like-minded women. She left the event excited about the ways the group could help her achieve her personal goals. “My take-away from the event was this group is exactly where I belong. I learned about resources I didn’t know about beforehand,” says Behr. “It was a group for people like me; women supporting women in their business goals.”

Amy Caldwell, executive director and co-founder at RevRoad, a Provo-based venture services group and member of the Women in Entrepreneurship executive advisory board, says she's never experienced the need for special treatment in the business world. “Everyone has opportunities, and you should never let anything get in the way of reaching your goals,” Caldwell says. “Never allow others to hold you back or allow what others say or do to deter you on your path.” After getting to know Brown through working with the Rollins Center, Caldwell was sold on Women in Entrepreneurship.

“Sometimes there can be a mentality that this is a man’s world, and it can make some women feel out of place and insecure,” Caldwell says. “Having a place that takes ideas like opening an Etsy store or starting a cupcake shop, seriously, rather than dismissing them as ‘cute’ is valuable. This is a group where women can and are creating solutions to the problems we all experience.”

As a member of the executive advisory board, Caldwell says one of her roles is to help connect students with mentors who can share their stories, expertise, experience and passion to show students that not everyone's path is the same and help them see how we can inspire each other from a vast array of backgrounds.  But, beyond this, the faculty leadership of Women in Entrepreneurship look to the students to lead Women in Entrepreneurship in the direction they want it to go. One of these student leaders, Annie Rees, is already feeling the impact of that mentorship, “The woman I have met inspire me to be a better version of myself,” Rees says.  “When I see others doing big things, it causes me to stretch myself, set higher goals, and achieve them.”

“The greatest value of Women in Entrepreneurship is how it fosters an empowering community for students that guides them to success,” Rees notes.  “It gives students a chance to be involved in something greater than themselves, which drives them to the highest level of achievement.”

Two student leaders pose at the Rollins center Kick-off event as they introduce Women in Entrepreneurship
Student leaders help introduce Women in Entrepreneurship at the Rollins Center For Technology Kick-off event earlier this year Photo courtesy of Meeshell Jewell.
Taunya Brown
Taunya Brown

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Anne Wallace