Innovators Hub: Girls in Entrepreneurship at Saint Mary's School
Katherine Jackson, director of student engagement

The Summer@Saint Mary's program offers a range of experiences, from all-girl to co-ed programs, from sports and arts, to academic enrichment and leadership. This year's Innovators Hub was an exciting opportunity for middle school-aged girls to meet and learn from Raleigh's rich community of local entrepreneurs.

Friday, July 14, 2017 marked the end of an exciting week for 12 middle school girls who have been in residence for the Saint Mary's School Innovators Hub: Girls in Entrepreneurship program. Participants came from across the southeast with many attending on scholarships offered through the Saint Mary's School's Auxiliary Programs and Admission Office.

Developed at Saint Mary's School by Kirsten Monroe, director of auxiliary services and Katherine Jackson, director of student engagement, the program offers unique, hands-on, learning experiences for middle school girls. The program's mission is to create a space in which young women encounter real-life problem solving while exploring their passions. This year's Innovators Hub focused on the intersection of food and innovation, highlighting two of Raleigh's points of pride. Daily topics included growth mindset, leadership, and design thinking, to name a few. There is no typical day for the Innovators Hub as the program is intentional in getting girls out into the community for site visits and exploration. This year's community partners were all seasoned entrepreneurs themselves and strategically aligned to reflect and highlight each day's theme as follows:

Monday - You are Unique

  • Jacob Boehm of Snap Pea Underground & Catering came to Saint Mary's campus to speak about uncompromising values and the importance of providing a unique product
  • Josh Monahan of Carolina Kettle gave participants a tour of his facility and spoke about researching your market to see what product will serve your area best

Tuesday - Building a Successful Team

  • Rochelle Johnson of The Cookery shared the commissary kitchen and event space that she and her husband, Nick, founded
  • Emma Monroe and Ricardo Primon of helped program participants with branding and logo creation

Wednesday - Thinking Outside the Box

  • Cindy Whitehead, CEO of The Pink Ceiling hosted program participants for the inaugural pajama party at the Pinkubator. Participants learned about being unapologetic for what you believe in, how empathy can drive your business and the importance of thinking outside of the box.
  • While at the Pink Ceiling, participants also heard from Leigh Kathryn of Bee Downtown and Jess Ekstrom of Headbands of Hope

Thursday - Servant Leadership

  • Nina Sigarto, general manager of Carroll's Kitchen, opened up the kitchen space to talk about Carroll's Kitchen's unique mission of serving women and the kitchen's values to the community
  • Janet Nix of The Angus Barn provided an wonderful tour of the ever-growing iconic Raleigh restaurant and taught participants about the importance of customer service

Friday - Demonstrating a Growth Mindset

  • The Innovators: Hub-Girls in Entrepreneurship program culminated in a final presentation demonstrating the week's learning. Participants split into two groups to formulate a business plan centered around the theme of food and innovation. Teams discussed considerations such as whether their businesses would be for profit or be nonprofit and who would be their target audience, as well as created a marketing plan and budget.

Daily exploration and learning were enhanced and reinforced in the evenings as part of the program's residential life curriculum. Under the leadership of Saint Mary's alumna Florrie McCard '14, participants were guided in a residential experience that integrated each day's programming into evening activities. The girls resided on campus in Saint Mary's Penick Hall and enjoyed a sneak peek into the life of a high school boarding student, while growing in confidence and independence.

The combination of workshops, site visits, and individual mentoring created an unforgettable week for our innovators in residence!