FREDERICK, Md.—A Hood College student club committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world earned a third-place trophy at a national competition recently for developing a piece of apparel that helps homeless people.
After being named a regional champion and rookie of the year at the regional competition in Washington, D.C., March 29, the Hood Enactus club presented its Backet project at the national competition May 15-17 in St. Louis, Mo. Along with the Backet design, they debuted an innovative work program designed to employ homeless people to create the product and acquire job skills.
The Backet is a cross-functional piece of apparel that combines a backpack and a winter jacket that is designed to assist the homeless population. It is intended to combat the two most pressing needs of homeless people—the need to keep ownership and proximity over their belongings and the need to adapt to varying weather conditions.
Of the 600-plus Enactus teams able to compete at the regional level and the 140 that advanced to the national stage, Hood College placed third in its league, which consisted of Georgia Southwestern State University, Gulf Coast State College, Indiana University-Kokomo, Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Southwest Minnesota State University. Their performance earned a trophy, $750 and a spot in the top 10 percent of all competing schools.
Hood’s team has 17 members, 11 of whom attended the national exposition. These include newly graduated seniors Connor Asman, Ana Filipovic, Scott Johnson, Haroon Pasha and Ivana Soce. Rowela Silvestre, a Master of Business Administration student, also attended along with underclassmen Enactus 2016-17 President Joe Hutchins, Nigol Keurkunian, Gray Kline, Kyle Shields and Alexandra Smith. The group was led by David Gurzick, Ph.D., associate professor of management and Sam Walton Fellow, a designation Enactus gives to faculty advisers. Several of those students landed interviews with companies including Hershey, RiteAid, Ferrero and Synchrony Financial.
Enactus is a global organization of student, academic and business leaders that draws its name from the words “entrepreneurial,” “action” and “us.” It is an international nonprofit dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action, creating a better world for everyone.
The Backet originated when Pasha, the Backet project manager went on a pilgrimage during which he experienced homelessness. He said it inspired him to take action and develop a product to help and empower the homeless community through Enactus. Pasha graduated May 14 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in information systems and a minor in economics.
Organizations outside the College assisted the project. The Religious Coalition for Human Needs, the Alan P. Linton Jr. Emergency Shelter, 2nd Street and Hope and the Frederick Community Action Agency are nonprofits that helped the team. Also, Hood alumna Tracy McGuirk, owner of Tracy Lin Creations, was the tailor for the project and helped the Enactus group create the Backet.