February 22, 2018  

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High School Students Shine in Business Competition at Southern Miss

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Poplarville High students Camryn Pierce, left, and Ondrea Ladner took first place in the SEP state competition's first-year division with their business "Palleture." (University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) concluded its current series of educational high school events and competitions on Wednesday, April 30, with its 7th annual SEP Statewide Business Plan Competition.

The event was sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education and hosted by the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, an educational outreach unit housed within The University of Southern Mississippi College of Business.

“The Mississippi Department of Education recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship in today's global economy,” said Mike Mulvihill, bureau director of the Office of Career and Technical Education at MDE. “Having students prepared to create the next set of dynamic businesses in our state is crucial. We appreciate our relationship with The University of Southern Mississippi and their proven ability to help train and produce the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Through a series of regional and online qualifiers held earlier this semester, each of the statewide event’s competing students was individually selected to advance and participate. Nearly all of the student businesses represented were operating as part of the SEP state competition and ranged from furniture and décor handcrafted from salvaged wooden pallets to school project-based assistance and services.

High schools contending for the top prizes this year included Biloxi, Gulfport, Poplarville, and Jackson Lanier. Ondrea Ladner and Camryn Pierce, juniors at Poplarville High School, took first place in the first-year division with their joint business Palleture. Second and third place in this division were awarded to Cierra Pruitt and Adrian Mullins respectively, both seniors at Gulfport High School.

Madeline Andrews, a junior at Biloxi High School, took first place in the competition’s second-year division with her headband and hair accessory business MAC Styles, LLC. Madeline currently sells her products through 20 retailers along the Gulf Coast as well as in Florida, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. In addition to taking the top prize in her division, Madeline was also recognized as the winner of this year’s coveted SEP Making Money Now! award which honors and provides a cash prize to one outstanding student each year for embodying the entrepreneurial spirit of the Southern Entrepreneurship Program.

The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is offered as an experiential education program for Mississippi’s high school students and is operated by the Southern Miss Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. SEP competition guidelines and awards information, along with information on SEP participation, are available on the program’s website www.theSEP.org. For further information, please contact James Wilcox at james.b.wilcox@usm.edu.