Grady High School, 2010
Armed with the confidence and tools gained through YE, Akinbola graduated high school as the owner of his own business, Bola Films. His video work helped him get accepted into Howard University, and he relocated to Washington, D.C., to study film, and after graduation, he gained a job at Golin, a global communications firm. Now, he’s transformed his video business into a creative marketing agency, Maroon Spirit, which focuses on helping startup businesses take flight.
Topeka High School, 2011
Chante loves going back to high school. Sometimes she returns to Topeka High as a speaker, other times as a mentor or to judge YE business plan competitions. Often, it’s to seek advice from her own YE teacher and mentor, Mr. Moore.
“He is hands-down the reason I have been successful,” Chante says, pointing out that it was Mr. Moore who convinced her to take YE, and while she was in college at Washburn University, he called her about a summer partnership – that later became an internship – at Westar Energy. For her and another YE alumna, Kaitlyn Truesdell the experience was life-changing. “I don’t know what my path would have looked like without YE, because it’s been a part of everything I’ve done after high school,” Chante explains.
“Our students are our future, and I want to help them see that they can craft their own paths.”
At Westar, while she mentored other YE students in their summer partnerships, her true passion was revealed: working with youth. ”Something YE taught me is that although I wasn’t born with every resource at my fingertips, I can still achieve my dreams,” she explains. ”Our students are our future, and I want to help them see that they can craft their own paths.” Currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Kansas, her goal is to help shape the future through education. And though Chante is experiencing her own success, she revels in watching other students taste it, too. ”YE has helped not only me but others who I went to high school with,” she says, ”and we are all just doing so well.”
Garden City High School, 2013
Garden City, Kansas
“YE’s role in my story is everything. My parents divorced when I was in middle school, and we moved around a lot. My life became pretty unstable, and I was just trying to survive one day at a time. Going into my junior year of high school, I hadn’t even given college a thought. I was just hoping to graduate high school. When some of my friends suggested I enroll in YE, everything changed. Something sparked inside me that I didn’t know was there.
“When some of my friends suggested I enroll in YE, everything changed. Something sparked inside me that I didn’t know was there.”
The class showed me how to find my passions and gave me confidence. It taught me that it’s okay to fail, but to expect to succeed. The hardest thing about high school is learning how and when to become an adult, and YE helped me navigate that. They provided mentorship, helped me apply for scholarships and now I’m the first person in my family to attend college.”
North High School
Hamid Bakhtiari was already aware of his entrepreneurial spirit in 2003. He had invested time and energy into mowing lawns, and was motivated to earn money. “At the time, I didn’t have a clear course on how to advance,” said Hamid. “Then an instructor at North High School in Wichita recommended Youth Entrepreneurs.”
A couple years later, Hamid used his entrepreneurial education and all of his savings to purchase a mobile communications business that his brother had helped start in Lawrence, Kansas. “The company previously focused on activating cell phones. I was looking at the market and seeing an opportunity to rebrand around a different need. Phone repair was not a common concept at the time, but technology was changing. Motorola launched the Razor, which Apple later followed with the iPhone 3G. Smartphones were becoming more personalized, and prices had skyrocketed. Customers weren’t necessarily looking to buy another phone if their device broke. They wanted someone who could fix the problem, and in a hurry. Our goal at MobileComm was to be the hero and repair their phones within an hour.”
“Some of the best lessons come through failure. Just because an idea fails doesn’t mean you fail at life. Invest in yourself and your ideas and you’ll never regret it.”
MobileComm has now expanded to seven Kansas locations. “YE helped me see the importance of catering to your market. I’ve had some other business ventures that weren’t as successful, but you learn. Some of the best lessons come through failure. Just because an idea fails doesn’t mean you fail at life. Invest in yourself and your ideas and you’ll never regret it.”