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Eller receives mentorship grant in honor of Dave Sitton

Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat Jim Jindrick (left), Patricia Sias (center) and Emre Toker (right), who are all part of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program will be able to impact more students thanks to The Dave Sitton Student Mentorship Grant.

The Eller College of Management McGuire Entrepreneurship Program recently received a mentorship grant to help support its mentor-in-residence program.

The Dave Sitton Student Mentorship Grant is named after UA alumnus and supporter Dave Sitton, who died on Aug. 12. An anonymous donor provided the grant and automotive dealer Jim Click agreed to match the funds.

The grant, which was given to the McGuire Entrepreneur Program last Monday, will provide the resources for the program to grow while maintaining its quality, said Patricia Sias, director of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program. With increased student interest, the sponsorship of mentors will potentially allow the program to increase its size, she added.

“We are very grateful for the support; I think it’s well placed with our mentors,” Sias said. “We wouldn’t have the quality program we have now if it wasn’t for the mentors-in-residence.”

Noted as the “crown jewel” of the UA by USA Today and The Princeton Review, the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program currently caters to 81 undergraduate and graduate students and is open to all majors. The two mentors-in-residence provide the guidance and one-on-one support that each student in the program needs to become a successful entrepreneur, Sias said.

Currently in his fourth year as a mentor for the program, Emre Toker said he has loved every moment of his experience.

“Interacting with the students and getting to share in their enthusiasm and passion and their intelligence — everything that goes along with being a young and ambitious student — has been my favorite,” Toker said.

According to Sias, the experiential nature of the program differentiates it from other entrepreneurship programs throughout the nation. The learning experience is more hands-on; rather than taking classes and participating in simulations, students have the opportunity to actually become entrepreneurs during their yearlong experience.

Bryce Keffeler, a finance and entrepreneurship senior in the program, said he was drawn in by the idea of creating a new venture, while also having the opportunity to work closely with other students and a mentor with an interest in his ideas.

“First, you get into groups and meet the mentors,” Keffeler said. “After your groups collaborate to make a presentation on the idea you want to carry out, the mentors select who they want to work with for the rest of the year.”

The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program provides a way for students to learn about the principles of entrepreneurship. Sias said the core of the program is a yearlong new venture development course team-taught by the mentors-in-residence.

“What they end up with at the end of the year is something an investor might be interested in,” Sias said, “and I’d say, every year, about 25 to 30 percent of our teams actually start the businesses they create.”

– Follow Nicole Cousins @cousinnicole

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