Peers from across the university recently honored Bridget Guerrero with the 2016 Student Life Achievement Award (STUEY) for Overall Student of the Year. In June, she will recieve her second degree from NSU. The first was a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from NSU's College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Her second is a master's degree in Marketing from H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship. But for Guerrero, the connection with NSU will continue long after she crosses the stage and recieves her new diploma.
In her words:
“I’m helping create a business incubator/accelerator for the Huizenga College of Business that will give students the opportunity to be innovative and entrepreneurial. If they have an idea that they want to pursue, they can take that concept from the ideation stage to the go-to-market stage and have our professors mentor them through the process, as well as connect them to the entire university – one NSU.”
“After I graduated from J.P. Taravella [High School] in 2007, I knew I wanted to change the world. I had joined the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training program in high school, and I saw that I was able to protect people and serve the country. I studied criminal justice for my bachelor’s degree here at NSU because I thought I wanted to be an FBI agent. I went all the way to getting a baton as an armed security guard, but then I realized that I needed to make a change.
“I started looking more at my natural talents and what I could teach myself that would not only protect others, but also empower them to transform their lives. It’s one thing to be proactive and it’s another to be reactive. Security measures are more reactive. But when you’re proactive, you can touch people in such a way that they understand they have these skills and they can be and have whatever they want through hard work.”
“As an undergraduate student I started working for a nonprofit organization within the Fischler College of Education called the Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation. I become the director of marketing, and created student scholarships that consisted of a time, accuracy or a quiz mechanism. This idea led to the first NSU IQ Scholarship.
“After that, I worked for start-up companies and saw first-hand the struggle for people to get companies off the ground. I learned that it matters who their mentors are and how they take the next steps so they’re not going around in circles.
“My breakthrough point came when I interned at Jarden Consumer Solutions in the Transformational Innovation department. There, we were tasked with creating a pod-based system for smoothies that requires no chopping and no mess. I did a lot of research on companies that sell juices to better understand the potential market. I also met my mentor at Jarden – he is an adjunct professor in innovation at NSU, as well as an NSU alumnus. He helped me think through the process of starting an incubator.”
“I put myself on a mission that when I graduate – I walk this June – I will leave a legacy behind that benefits students. When I chose to come to NSU, I saw this school as such a young school ready to grow. And I knew that I was going to factor into that. I want students to receive not only a higher education, but the ability to become empowered and profitable. The idea is not to simply graduate with honors and a degree. The idea is for students to say, ‘I have a degree and that degree is working for me.’
“It’s been really exciting, especially because I’ve been able to present in front of President Dr. Hanbury, Dean Preston Jones, the Provost, the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Governors. I also was part of PanSGA, which supported me throughout. After I surveyed students and highlighted the demand for entrepreneurial opportunities, SGA allocated funds toward the development of a business accelerator/incubator. We are now actively working on the incubator with Huizenga College of Business Dean Preston Jones.
“As one next step, we hope to apply the allocated funds to remodel one room in the college. We want white boards everywhere, just very collaborative so you can see innovation happening. The second part of this is mentoring because people learn more when they teach others. Our hope is that when students finish their M.B.A., they can help other students with a class, passing along all those secrets we had to find out by ourselves.
“Mentors who are managers or business owners benefit as well because looking for talent is hard. By mentoring and working with students one-on-one, they can see students have certain potential and skills that they need.”
“In the meantime, I’m looking forward to serving on a new [Huizenga College of Business] alumni advisory council.
“Being nominated for the Student Life Achievement Award (STUEY) Student of the Year and Student Leadership Awards… all those things make me feel like my hard work was worth it. I am so proud that I can represent Huizenga College of Business, and I want to inspire everyone to find their own way to empower themselves and leave a legacy for others.”