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March 24, 2010 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-24

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"(The competition) was to prove to
(the University) that you don't have to
be a business student, and you don't
have to be an engineer," she said. "All
you have to do is have an idea."
Leland continued on to become
MPowered's external project man-
ager, and was later elected president
at the end of her sophomore year.
As president, she spends about 20
hours a week with MPowered which
includes holding meetings with
members and representatives from
other student organizations, as well
as other University and Ann Arbor
members and ventures. Leland meets
regularly with the University's Cen-
ter for Entrepreneurship, which she
said started around the same time as
MPowered and strives to reach simi-
lar goals through academics.
Leland said that as president she
doesn't have the chance to focus on
any single project as much. Rather,
she ensures that all projects are car-
ried out smoothly.
"A lot of my job is reminding the
team that what they're doing is so
important and so valuable and that
they're really having a huge impact
on the future of the University,"
Leland said. "It definitely, at times,
can become overwhelming for peo-
ple, and it's important for me to make
them realize that their time is not
being wasted and they're part of a
really exciting business."
MPowered hosts opportunities
like a career fair, MPowered Con-
nect and Entreprelliance. It also par-

Junior Lauren Leland joined
MPowered when there were
only about 18 members. Now
she is president of the 60-member
organization, which strives to inspire
innovation and entrepreneurship at
the University.
MPowered was started in 2007 by
two students who wanted to bring
innovative spirit to the University.
Leland said they were inspired by the
pioneering culture in the San Fran-
cisco Bay area, where someone with
an idea could find funding simply by
running into a venture capitalist in a
coffee shop.
"There's no reason Michigan
couldn't be the exact same," Leland

said. those problems."
Now, Leland carries on the tra- Leland got her start in MPowered
dition by helping the organization by working on the Green Campus
expose students to entrepreneurship Competition, which partnered with
and by supporting student ventures LSA's theme semester last fall, and
on campus. she later became a project manager
Leland, a Business junior, became for 1,000 Pitches - a contest that asks
involved with MPowered in May students to pitch business or product
2008 to pursue her interest in social ideas in a YouTube-style video.
entrepreneurship. "We really reached out to stu-
"Social entrepreneurship is using dents who might not have ordinar-
an entrepreneurial way of thinking ily thought about entrepreneurship,"
to solve social problems," Leland Leland said. "It really targeted a lot
said. "So tackling things like pov- of diverse groups on campus. The
erty, homelessness and hunger, and health category targeted pre-med
solving them not just by charities students, and the social entrepre-
and non-profits but by actually inno- neurship category targeted a lot of
vating and thinking of ways to solve the liberal arts majors."

ticipates in competitions like 1,000
Pitches, the Alternative Energy Com-
petition and the Michigan Toy Story
"We really are changing the cul-
ture," Leland said. "To me, entrepre-
neurship allows everyone to reach
their highest potential."
Leland said MPowered strives
to demonstrate that entrepreneur-
ship affects everyone. She added
that innovative thinking is the key to
approaching problems and to making
"the biggest change and the biggest
"We think there's value for every
student in MPowered," Leland said.
"And while there are those that are
actually living and breathing student
ventures ... there's this whole other
group out there that we want to be
able to influence by showing them
that no matter what they get into,
participating in this entrepreneurial
thinking is going to help them be bet-
ter at it."
Even before joining MPowered,
Leland started the Homeless Aware-
ness to Action organization with
students in her English 125 class.
Originally an English project, the
organization reached beyond the
actual class, working with residence
halls to donate food to shelters, col-
lecting cans from fraternity parties
and working with churches to bring
dinner to the homeless.
"The premise behind it was, before
I even realized it, a social entre-
preneurial venture because it was
thinking of innovative ways to use
the resources we have to help fight
homelessness on campus," Leland
Leland said she hopes to combine
her passion for entrepreneurship and
her business training in the future to
continue this drive for social change.
"I want to make a positive social
impact and, to me, business is the
most powerful sector that I can do
that in," Leland said. "Corpora-
tions have a lot of control and a lot
of power, and to work within the
business sector to try and make
businesses realize it's their respon-
sibility to really initiate social
change is a really exciting thing."
From Page 3B
It's tough timing though.
Caldwell's integrated project for the
Art school - a sequential diorama
exhibit - must be finished by mid-
But if anyone can balance the
hectic schedule and demanding life-
style, it's the gymnast who created
his own classification: the artist-

Students of the Year

SATURDAY, MARCH 27TH I 9:00 A.M._- 1:30 P.M.
Lunch to Follow

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