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Alumni Spotlight: Meet Sierra Brown

“Youth Entrepreneurs taught me that there are people out there who are working hard to ensure I have a prosperous future,” says YE alumna Sierra Brown. “YE exposed me to my full potential.” Today, Sierra is thriving as a freshman at Wichita State University. See why YE was influential in Sierra’s life.

As a YE student: “I got involved with Youth Entrepreneurs my senior year at Lansing High School, and I only wish I had started it earlier!” Sierra says. She had a few business experiences under her belt, including participating in the student business organization DECA and serving as the general manager of her school’s store and cafe. “YE was right up my alley!” 

Class ambassador: At the start of the semester, Sierra applied to be the Class Ambassador, a student who is charged with drumming up YE excitement at the school. “After I was elected by my classmates, I really started buying into the program!” she says. Sierra began attending scholarship events and pitch programs. “From that point, opportunities started to skyrocket.”

Her Youth Entrepreneurs mindset-shift moment: “The biggest mindset shift I had was when I became Opportunity obsessed and really started to understand that Foundational Value,” she says. “As Class Ambassador, one of my main roles was to get those around me interested and excited about YE. As I relayed the message to people, that shifted my mindset. Opportunities are all around me, and I can create win-win opportunities anywhere I look.” 

Becoming a UNCF/Koch Scholar: In February, Sierra was invited as a YE student to travel to Washington, D.C., for the UNCF/Koch Scholars Summit. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” Sierra recalls. After such a rewarding experience, she applied for the prestigious UNCF/Koch Scholarships and was one of just five recipients. 

Specialty Custom Quilts: As part of the curriculum, YE students create their own businesses, complete with a holistic business plan. “I was kind of hesitant at first because I didn’t think I had a great idea, but as I developed the business plan, that plan started taking me to lots of different places.” Sierra’s business, Specialty Custom Quilts, transformed hoodies, t-shirts and crewnecks into blankets filled with memories. Sierra presented her business plan at several entrepreneurship programs and competitions, including the Kansas Entrepreneurship Program and the Grow Leavenworth County Entrepreneurship Challenge. “Across all the competitions, I brought in more than $7,000 from what YE helped me create!”

Seizing opportunities: “From that point, I was all the way into everything YE,” Sierra says, and she enjoyed attending ambassador programs and scholarship nights. Youth Entrepreneurs introduced Sierra to YEP KC, a hands-on internship program for high school students that focuses on entrepreneurial thinking and development through practical experience. Through YEP KC, Sierra interned at two startup companies in Kansas City: FishTech and Zoloz (formerly EyeVerify). “Both really gave me lots of real-world exposure and hands-on training. YE gave me the confidence I needed to apply myself and sell myself, because there are people out there who want to help me.”

What she’s up to today: Sierra is a freshman at Wichita State University and studying Human Resources. She continues her involvement with YE, and has applied to be a classroom volunteer. Within the business college, she was chosen as a Dean’s Ambassador, and was elected to serve as the Human Resources Ambassador within the group. She was also able to put the skills she learned in YE to use when she served as the student representative to a team that hired a new recruitment coordinator for the college.

Her YE passion: “I’m really passionate about YE because I see how many doors it can really open. YE created an unlimited network of resources — I’m always looking for the next hand I can shake,” she smiles. 

Check out more alumni success stories on the YE blog.