UNLV’s Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation holds meeting for its mentorship program

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Members Vanessa Booth and Irene Colunga package hygiene kits for the Hero School nonprofit organization. Photo by Mark Credico.

UNLV’s Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation held a meeting on Thursday for its new mentorship program where members were informed about plans going forward, then worked on projects the program is doing for the community. 

The meeting opened with program logistics. Nadine Bentis, head of the mentorship program, and program manager for the Troesh Center, coordinated upcoming events for the program with the seven members in attendance. She informed them that the mentorship program was extended from a six month program to a year.

Bentis then told the members that the group would split for the second half of the meeting. Two of the members would be putting together hygiene kits for a nonprofit of the group’s choosing. The rest of them would be unpacking and hanging clothes for the upcoming Troesh Community Closet. 

The nonprofits who would potentially receive the hygiene kits were submitted by the members prior to the meeting. At the meeting they took a vote on which would receive the kits. After a pitch from member Vanessa Booth, who also is managing director of the Scarlet and Gray, the group unanimously agreed to send the kits to Hero School, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent homelessness, which Booth also works for weekly. 

“I knew when I joined the Troesh scholar opportunity, they talked about social impact projects,” said Booth, “But when it came time to actually discuss what to, when they had us email our preferences and I just said, ‘I volunteer for these guys, I know them, I can vouch for them. They will be very useful.’ It feels very good and I’m happy, also that the Troesh Center can help and connect with the community.” 

The Troesh Community Closet is a resource for UNLV students who are in need of clean and dry clothes. The clothes in the closet are all donated from Lee Business School faculty. The closet will have a soft opening where it will open its doors to students on November 8, with a formal hard opening coming on December 1. Initially the closet will operate on an honor system for renting clothes, and its doors will always be open except during school breaks, such as Thanksgiving Break. 

“I asked and we had that space, it was just a storage closet, and I thought it’s something I wanted to do,” said Bentis, “I’m sure there’s a space restriction so I know it’s not a big space but it’s a space that we do have so I was wanting to utilize it in the best way possible.”

The Troesh mentorship program was conceived in Spring 2020 as a means to help students from any major at UNLV who are interested in entrepreneurship. Due to delays from the pandemic, the program was delayed to this semester for its start. 

“The mentorship program is really to provide mentors to students interested in entrepreneurship,” said Bentis, “They could already be having a business, they could want to start a business, even if it’s one 20 years from now, but they have an interest in entrepreneurship. Our role is to really help facilitate that.”

The program links the student members to mentors based on their interests and goals, of which the current members will be meeting their selected mentors this coming Monday. It also helps its members through different options for workshops and taking them to small businesses in Las Vegas to meet the owners, as well as to various events for networking. The members also work on a service learning project, which for these students took the form of the hygiene kits and the community closet. 

“People will see the application and think ‘Oh, I’m not a business student.’” said Booth, “That’s what I thought at first but I saw in big, bold letters it said ‘all majors’ and they are looking to have a diverse cohort, not just the business students…definitely take advantage of it if they’re a first gen student, low income because there’s a lot of resources here to take advantage of, especially if you are starting a small business.”

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