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The Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship held an Entrepreneurship Live event at UH Hilo in an effort to reach more students in the UH System.

While housed in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Shidler College of Business, the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE), coordinates and offers educational opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation, and commercialization to students at all 10 campuses in the UH System.

One of the ways PACE is reaching out to students is through its Entrepreneurship Live events, which brings real world professionals to talk story with UH students. In late February, PACE partnered with the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics to host an in person event at the Hilo campus. The speakers were former Hawaiʻi Island dairy farmer and entrepreneur Bahman Sadeghi and his daughter Kimia. Bahman acquired Meadow Gold in April 2020 as it was facing closure after more than 120 years of operation in Hawaiʻi. His vision is to see Hawaiʻi’s dairy industry thrive.

According to PACE Executive Director Sandra Fujiyama, PACE is strengthening its collaboration with UH campuses statewide and is planning an in person event at UH Maui College later this spring.

PACE is fortunate to have collaborative partners like Helen Tien at UH Hilo and Debasis Bhattacharya at UH Maui College that inspire their students to participate in PACE programs and champion entrepreneurship and innovation at their campuses to drive student success,” Fujiyama said.

PACE’s ability to offer in person events at the neighbor island campuses is supported by a grant from the Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation (HTDC). Similar to PACE, HTDC serves the entire state and is looking for ways to encourage greater participation and support for neighbor island entrepreneurship efforts.

HTDC‘s goals are perfectly aligned with PACE‘s mission with regard to developing talent to foster innovation and diversify Hawaiʻi‘s economy,” Fujiyama said. “The funding spurred us to organize an exponential number of programs through the PACE Leaders program, and activated branches of our programs on two neighbor islands. PACE has plans to sustain the positive momentum, and grow the number of neighbor island activities and the students we reach.”

PACE’s comprehensive portfolio of programs offer mentorship, training and resources, and are designed to encourage entrepreneurial thinking across disciplines and inspire entrepreneurs to move their ideas from conceptualization to commercialization. One of those programs is PACE Leaders, which launched in 2023. The program provides students with an opportunity to gain entrepreneurial and leadership skills, while enriching the educational experiences of their peers.

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Jen Russo is the first PACE Leader from UH Maui College.

Apply to be a PACE Leader

With help from Bhattacharya, PACE brought its first neighbor island PACE Leader, Jen Russo, on board from UH Maui College and is looking to recruit students from other campuses. Russo serves as an ambassador for PACE at UH Maui College and will lead the development of in-person events there. In addition to the leadership opportunities, PACE Leaders are also eligible for scholarships of up to $6,000 per year. Applications for PACE Leaders for the 2024–25 academic year are being accepted on a rolling basis. The priority application deadline is April 7. For more information and a link to apply, visit this website.

“Being a part of the PACE Leaders programs has really enriched my college experience,” said Jen Russo, UH Maui College PACE Leader. “I’ve connected with so many people, from high school students, to college students, professors and professionals that I would not have otherwise connected with, and have enjoyed being a part of such a rich and inclusive group of individuals. I wholeheartedly encourage students to take advantage of the leadership and professional development opportunities offered by PACE and apply to be a PACE Leader now.”

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