Dean Crow challenges students to make changes

The first-ever Dean’s Changemaker Challenge final pitch competition was held last week and Letsbloom was selected as the winner of $10,000 in seed money by a panel of expert judges. Letsbloom is a children’s book series that focuses on various mental health topics and provides a resource that teachers can use to facilitate discussions surrounding mental health within their classrooms. The mission is to equip children with the proper tools and resources necessary to navigate their mental health in a post-COVID world.

Letsbloom was created by Emily Talas. She is a third year Con-Ed student majoring in Health Studies and completing a certificate in Commerce, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of the Queen’s Bloom Club.

Emily says from age five, she has always wanted to be an “inventor”, and adds she never thought this was a realistic dream, nor did she think it was an attainable profession until she discovered the ASCX 200/300 course.

"I am extremely excited and grateful to have been selected as the winner of the Dean’s Changemaker Challenge,” she says. “This course has truly opened my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship and has allowed me to create solutions for issues that I am extremely passionate about. I am forever grateful that the Dean has offered this opportunity to me and many other students as it has allowed me to further my passion for social entrepreneurship while acquiring the skills needed to continue my entrepreneurial journey. This course has truly been the highlight of my undergraduate career and I am thankful to have had this incredible opportunity to create a positive change within my community.”

The Dean’s Changemaker Challenge was a new initiative this year for undergraduate students across the Faculty of Arts and Science, designed to help them bring meaningful change by learning to start and launch an entrepreneurial venture.

These two ASCX courses that comprise the Challenge were offered for the first time in the fall 2020 and winter of 2021. Students learned to identify real-world challenges and opportunities, worked collaboratively to develop solutions, and used startup business strategies to establish ventures to make the change they want to see happen.

To support student success in the Challenge, as well as career development, the teams were mentored by FAS alumni who are successful entrepreneurs in fields such as fashion, entertainment, journalism, social enterprises, global telecommunications, finance, employment relations, human resources, law and legal support, technology, software, sales, distribution, operations and more. These experts supported the student teams as they prepared to showcase their ventures and compete for investment at the Dean’s Changemaker Challenge pitch competition.

To conclude the pilot, the Dean’s Changemaker Challenge final pitch competition for ASCX 300 was held over Zoom and showcased the three ventures that were developed throughout the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters.

“The first-ever Dean’s Changemaker Challenge brought out the best in our undergraduate students and I am incredibly proud of them, as well as our faculty, staff, and alumni mentors who supported them in taking it,” says Dean Barbara Crow, Faculty of Arts and Science. “A major pillar of our Strategic Plan is enhancing the student experience and the Challenge was one of the 50 initiatives listed in it. It was designed to support the success of our undergraduates in becoming changemakers, as well as to provide skills and experience that helps them stand out after graduation. The skills learned through the Challenge go beyond the university - students gain in-demand proficiencies including leadership, project management, and entrepreneurship.”

Learn more about the Dean’s Changemaker Challenge.