What students are saying about UAB’s NEW Entrepreneurship Degree

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Members of UAB’s capstone Entrepreneurial Engagement Seminar with regional entrepreneur Thomas Walker, Jr., Founder of S(w)ervice. Photo via UAB Collat School of Business

After nearly two years of research and design, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has launched its new Entrepreneurship Degree at the Collat School of Business. The new degree program officially launches in Fall 2020, but most of its required classes are offered already. So we spoke with some of the first students in the program to hear what they think so far.

What is Entrepreneurship + what can I do with it?

A glimpse into one of UAB’s extracurricular entrepreneurship programs, the Blazer Hatchery and Hackathon, sponsored by the Alabama Power Foundation. Photo via UAB Collat School of Business

In a nutshell, an entrepreneurship major prepares students to run their own innovative entrepreneurial ventures. Rather than focusing on niche fields, a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship prepares students for a wide range of careers across a diverse array of sectors. 

UAB’s Entrepreneurship Degree emphasizes:

  • Critical problem solving
  • Dealing with uncertainty
  • Navigating failures
  • Leading growing enterprises
  • Making positive social and economic impact on communities and markets
  • Personal resilience

An entrepreneurship degree exposes students to accounting, ethics, economics, finance, marketing, and management and more while instilling lessons about how these functions interact and evolve in growing entrepreneurial ventures. 

A common early career step for entrepreneurship students is to work for an existing entrepreneurial venture. It is a reliable stepping stone for one to launch one’s own entrepreneurial venture.

Patrick J. Murphy, Ph.D., Goodrich Endowed Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, UAB

Why Entrepreneurship at UAB? Let’s find out.

A scene from UAB’s Entrepreneurial Coding Academy, delivered in partnership with Innovation Depot. Photo via UAB Collat School of Business

We think globally and act locally,” said Murphy, “We utilize world-class approaches and universal concepts in our academic program, but we tailor all of them to serve the regional culture and make a local impact.

The need for entrepreneurship at UAB is twofold. First, student demand for entrepreneurial education has been on the rise for years. And second, Birmingham has a strong and active entrepreneurial community that is interested in working with UAB and hiring entrepreneurial talent. 

We spoke with four students to hear their reasons for choosing the Entrepreneurship Degree at UAB:

1. Matthew Graben

Matthew Graben, one of the new students in the Entrepreneurship Program. Photo via Matthew Graben

Born and raised in Chelsea, Matthew dropped out of UAB in 2015—now, he’s returning to finish out his degree in the Entrepreneurship program. In addition to studying at UAB, Matthew is the creative director for Seeds Coffee Company.

Why did you choose UAB’s Entrepreneurship Degree?

Matthew: I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. However, I learned that you can teach people to be entrepreneurs. It’s not built around regurgitating lectures into papers, but rather about applying the concepts of business in a way that is meaningful. 

What experiences are you most looking forward to in regards to entrepreneurship?

Matthew: The vulnerability of being challenged and put in a situation to grow. No one pushes themselves on their own; we need to be pushed by others. 

What are your post-grad plans, and how will your entrepreneurship degree help you accomplish those goals?

Matthew:  Although I don’t know my plans, I look forward to the opportunities that will be presented to me upon completion of the major. 

2. Jibran “Brian” Akhtar

Jibran “Brian” Akhtar, a rising senior majoring in Entrepreneurship. Photo via Jibran “Brian” Akhtar

A rising senior at UAB, Brian is originally from Vestavia Hills. Although he initially studied Electrical Engineering at UAB, he switched to Marketing as a sophomore. Then, he heard about the upcoming Entrepreneurship program.

Why did you choose UAB’s Entrepreneurship Degree?

Brian: Deep down inside, I think I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur—from raising $1600 selling popcorn when I was a Webelos Scout to starting my own tennis organization as a junior in high school. Even if I hadn’t already been enrolled at UAB, I would have chosen their Entrepreneurship Degree over others because of its proximity to home, the professors it offers and the programs they implement.

What experiences are you most looking forward to in regards to entrepreneurship?

Brian: I’m excited to sit down with an entrepreneur currently going through the growth stage of their company and really feeling the emotions they experience from their day-to-day operations.

What are your post-grad plans, and how will your entrepreneurship degree help you accomplish those goals?

Brian: A couple weeks after I had finished my time in the entry class of the Entrepreneurship Program, I changed my lock screen background to “open company day after graduation.” Since then, I have applied the thinking process I developed in ENT270 to brainstorm and construct business models in my mind. I feel that the Entrepreneurship degree is just the icing on top, because the knowledge from the class is the real prize. With that knowledge, I will be ready to jump into the unknown without fear and be ready (if not excited) for failure, because I know I will have the tools to start a dozen successful businesses. I think that is the most important aspect of this class: I own the tools and thought processes to have no fear.

3. Yulexi Plata-Garcia

Yulexi is one of the new students in UAB’s Entrepreneurship Degree program. Photo via Yulexi Plata-Garcia

Hailing from right here in Birmingham, Yulexi chose UAB due to its city scene and student diversity. She also recognized that Birmingham is growing and changing every day and wanted to be here to experience it.

Why did you choose UAB’s Entrepreneurship Degree?

Yulexi: I see entrepreneurship as an opportunity for creativity, risk and adventure. The program will prepare me for either forming part of a start-up or starting my own business. 

What experiences are you most looking forward to in regards to entrepreneurship?

Yulexi: I look forward to being involved in more entrepreneurial organizations, taking more classes, getting to know and learn from the professors, attending networking events and taking advantage of the other opportunities the program provides. 

What are your post-grad plans, and how will your entrepreneurship degree help you accomplish those goals?

Yulexi: After graduation, I hope to find a job that I am passionate about. I know the Entrepreneurship Degree will guide me into finding a company or even starting my own business. 

4. Malcom J. Hollifield

Malcom J. Hollifield, one of the Entrepreneurship program’s new students. Photo via Malcom J. Hollifield

Malcom, a rising junior at UAB, chose the university due to the opportunities it provides, as well as its proximity to his hometown of Hoover.

Why did you choose UAB’s Entrepreneurship Degree?

Malcom: I enrolled into the entry class for the Entrepreneurship Program and that class altered my perspective of what I REALLY wanted to do! I am blessed to have been a part of this opportunity; it allowed me to feel like a kindergartener on a field trip all over again.  

What experiences are you most looking forward to in regards to entrepreneurship?

Malcom: I am looking forward to more real-life experiences, networking, learning and building a team of my own to create the next big idea.

What are your post-grad plans, and how will your entrepreneurship degree help you accomplish those goals?

Malcom: I actually started my entrepreneur planning after Dr. Murphy’s class. I took advantage of businesses being closed and started my own lawn service business. The first thing Dr. Murphy taught us was “Ready, Fire, Aim”, and that will forever stick with me, even after receiving my degree. 

Learn More About Entrepreneurship at The Collat School of Business

Does Entrepreneurship interest you? Reach out and learn more about the opportunities at UAB. Photo via UAB Collat School of Business

Although there is no physical activity on UAB’s campus for the near future, it’s never too early to start planning to further your education at the UAB Collat School of Business.

Schedule a visit with the Collat School of Business or request more information online to learn what it’s like to study Entrepreneurship at UAB.

“If companies are looking for talented, driven, smart individuals who know how to adapt to change, learn on the fly, and lead themselves and others around them to a meaningful & successful work life, the students in UAB’s Entrepreneurship Program are a fit.”

Matthew Graben

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  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.