A Great Start To A New Semester

By: Joel Hernandez

This week was the first official Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program meeting of the Fall 2014 semester. The students enjoyed a wonderful meal from El Cochinito Contento (The Happy Pig) and got to know one another. There are thirteen new students and six students who are on their second and final semester of the program. The students were privileged enough to have three guest speakers this week.

Nancy Ervin was the first guest speaker. Nancy is the metor coordinator for the Lavl EMP, a business consultant and a partner at the local CPA firm Baker, Peterson & Franklin. Nancy told the students about her professional journey, her past jobs and why she decided to move on. Mrs. Ervin discussed how each EMP student would be matched with 1-2 mentors. The students introduced themselves and gave Mrs. Ervin their brief entrepreneurial background to equip her to best match mentors and students.

Our second speaker was Casey Diaz. Casey is the President and CEO of Charles Diaz Trucking, Inc. He is a successful Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program alumnus. When he was in the program his mentor was Mr. Ed O’Neil. Casey enlightened the class with the story of how he became the successful entrepreneur he is presently. He helped his family expand the once small local trucking company into the national trucking company it is today. Mr. Diaz wants the EMP students to remember two things: “There is always a way, you just have to find it”- do not give up; use your resources to help you solve your problems. He also wants us to know, “the extra mile is not very crowded”- anything done above and beyond will stand out above the rest.

Riley Walter was the third and final presenter. Mr. Walter has been involved with the Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program for 15 years. He praised the Laval EMP and stated that the program here at The Lyles Center is much better than those he has been involved with previously. He explained to EMP that at big Chicago universities students have mentors that are involved with Fortune 500 companies. However, those mentors meet with all 5 of their mentees simultaneously for just one hour, once a month. Here at the Claude and Betty Lou Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program, students have the luxury of meeting with their mentors one-on-one, at least once a week. Riley implored the EMP students to take advantage of their mentors and to reach out to them. Mr. Walter left us with a few important points. He told us “make your own luck,” do not wait for handouts. You have to work hard to get what you want. He wants us to know that it is not all about the mentors teaching us, they learn from us just as much as we learn from them. “Mentors learn from you too.”