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Four Individuals Honored at 7th Annual NACCE Conference

Thursday, October 22, 2009   (0 Comments)
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Faculty Member, Student, and Two Entrepreneurs Are Recognized; John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at North Iowa Area Community College Is Also Honored



Springfield, MA – October 22, 2009 – Five awards presented at the 7th Annual Conference of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), held in Chicago, IL, last week, show the diversity of the organization and its mission to promote entrepreneurial education. Two entrepreneurs–both educated at community colleges–and a faculty member were recognized for their achievements. Also, a student was honored for writing the winning essay in the annual NACCE Student Essay Contest at the four-day event, which was attended by over 350 people for community colleges across the nation. Finally, an entrepreneurial center that known for its innovative programming was also honored.


The two entrepreneurs who were honored illustrate how community colleges foster entrepreneurship that leads to business success for individuals and economic development for communities. The Entrepreneur of the Year Award was won by Noelia Urzula Vasquez, of Minneapolis, MN, a student at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC) in Rosemount, MN. The award paid expenses for Vazquez to attend the NACCE Conference. In addition, NACCE awarded $1,000 to DCTC to continue to support entrepreneurship.


In 1999, working withher husband, Enrique Garcia Salazar, Vazquez founded the La Loma Coffee Shop at Mercado Central, a Latin American marketplace that was just opening in Minneapolis. The shop quickly blossomed as the busiest business at the popular marketplace. The modest coffee shop evolved into Cafeteria La Loma, and sells as many as 2,500 tamales a day. The venture was only the beginning for Noelia and Enrique, who have gone on to found La Loma Mexican Restaurants at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis and Plaza Latina in St. Paul, a catering business, and a wholesale tamale business that serves more than 260 stores in Minnesota and is on track to expand its sales nationwide. The company has 35 employees and annual sales topping $2.5 million.


"Noelia’s entrepreneurial success is truly inspiring,” said NACCE Executive Director Heather Van Sickle. "She and her husband have taken something as simple as a tamale and, through hard work and perseverance, created a vibrant, growing business that employs dozens of people. We are very pleased to shine a light on her story through this award.”


A Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award was presented to John Pappajohn by NACCE. Pappajohn is the driving force behind the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at his alma mater, North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, IA, as well as four other entrepreneurship centers at other schools around the state. To date he has donated more than $15 million to these centers. A highly successful venture capitalist, Pappajohn has helped to find funding for over 63 companies. At age 81, he is still active and sponsors the New Venture and Iowa Business Plan Competitions, giving many new companies in Iowa a strong start.


"This award marks yet another acknowledgement of the incredible work and generosity that John has shared through his entrepreneurial endeavors,” said Dr. Deb Derr, North Iowa Area Community College president. "As a NIACC graduate, John has served as the inspiration for so many of our students to follow their dreams.”


NIACC’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center received the NACCE Innovation Award created with and sponsored by Accelper Consulting. The award, initiated this year, recognizes entrepreneurial centers and their positive impact on the communities they serve. The center received a plaque recognizing successful deployment of innovation and entrepreneurship practices and creation of new jobs. In addition, the JPEC will receive complimentary Master Business Innovator Certification Train-the-trainer sessions in order to teach Business Innovation to their students and business clients and accelerate innovation in the communities the JPEC serves.


"To be named as the top center in the nation is a great endorsement for all the hard work of our staff supporting advancement of the North Iowa region in business creation and ownership, entrepreneurship education and furthering partnerships to stimulate entrepreneurship,” said Jamie T. Zanios, NIACC vice president of JPEC and Institutional Advancement.


Carlene Cassidy, director of the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD, received the Entrepreneurship Faculty of the Year Award. The award paid expenses for Cassidy to attend the NACCE Conference, where she was awarded $1,000.


Cassidy was nominated by Georgia Worrell, a student who operates a business in the school’s Student Business Incubator, which Cassidy played a key role in developing. "With her leadership, I am not just learning how to become a successful entrepreneur, but am also becoming an active member in society as well,” Worrell wrote of Cassidy. "The students and faculty at Anne Arundel Community College are truly blessed to have Professor Carlene Cassidy as a significant role model for students to follow.”


The winner of the Student Essay Contest was Chevan Jessamine, who attends Central Texas College in Killeen, TX. He received a $1,000 award along with paying his expenses to attend the NACCE Conference.


In his winning essay on the topic of "How Entrepreneurship Education at My Community College Has Helped Me Reach My Goals,” Jessamine, an immigrant from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent’s, described how he was able to start a successful window-covering business with the help of knowledge he gained at Central Texas College. "I think that a community college such as Central Texas College truly makes a difference,” he wrote, "helping individuals overcome the negatives–lack of money, rattle-trap cars, and having to choose between gas and groceries. We can all become entrepreneurs and share in the American dream. We just need the know-how and the knowledge that community colleges impart.”



NACCE connects community college administrators and faculty with knowledge and successful practices regarding entrepreneurial thinking, entrepreneurship education, and student business incubation. NACCE holds an annual conference, hosts a dynamic list-serv, develops web resources such as shared entrepreneurship curricula and syllabi for faculty, creates guides in beginning and sustaining entrepreneurship and student business incubation programs, as well as, tips for grant proposals specific to entrepreneurial endeavors at community colleges. For more information, visit










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