• DC Everest student named Saunders Semifinals winner in national scholarship competition

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    May 20, 2016

    For Immediate Release – May 23, 2016           

    Sara Guild, Workforce Dev. Director
    DC Everest student named Saunders Semifinals winner in national scholarship competition

    WESTON – DC Everest High School student Laney Hughes was named a finalist in the eighth annual Young Entrepreneurs Academy’s Saunders Scholars Competition and is preparing to travel to Washington, DC to compete for up to $40,000 in college scholarship funding and business prize packages.

    Hughes was selected from among 90 teams nationally who pitched their business ideas in a ‘Shark Tank’-style event on Friday, May 6 at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.

    The national finals will take place on Monday, June 13 at America’s Small Business Summit sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Sam’s Club in Washington, DC.

    The eight annual Saunders Scholars finalists are:

    Laney Hughes, CEO, Shallocat, a fashion line that produces a variety of clothing items and accessories that are based off Laney's original designs. Hughes is a sophomore at D.C. Everest Senior High School, and represents the DC Everest YEA! class hosted by the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce in Wisconsin.

    Ashley Hurton, CEO, HappiWear, a fitness apparel business which features signature convertible yoga pant which allows the wearer to switch between long and capri pants. A portion of HappiWear profits will be donated to a mental health non-profit. Hurton is a senior at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, representing the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts.

    Ethan Shapiro, Co-President/CMO, and Ryan Shnider, CO-President/CFO of Snap’d In, their product, a customizable and changeable cell phone case that allow teens to change their case to reflect new interest and hobbies. Shapiro is a freshman at American Heritage School, and Shnider is a freshman at Palm Beach Central High School, both represent the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, Florida.

    Cyanne McClean, CEO, Africa Smiles, the non-profit company sells handmade African bracelets to raise funds to provide educational books for children in Tanzania.  McClean is a senior at Charles W. Flanagan High School, and represents the Miramar Pembroke Pines Chamber of Commerce, Florida.

    Maxx Stewart, CEO, Spyder Grypz, a high performing, lightweight, customizable grip that is applied to a lacrosse stick to enhance the lacrosse player's grip.  Stewart, is an eighth grader at Meeker Middle School, and represents the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Washington.

    Mizna Akbar, CEO, Arya Desair, CFO, and Meenakshi Pamul, CMO, Muzikguru, an online directory of music teachers, featuring safety verified teachers, descriptive profiles, and rating sytem for students and parents. Akbar is a junior at Clovis North, Desair is an eighth grader at Granite Ridge Intermediate School, and Pamul is a junior at Clovis North, and represent the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, California.

    Emily Guertler, CEO, Straight Shot Apparel, a children’s fashion line featuring discrete zipper openings to give insulin shots, making diabetes management easier for kids and parents. Guertler is a freshman at Kearns High School and represents the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, Utah.

    “It is truly inspirational to watch our future leaders put their learning into action as they launch their own, real businesses and pitch their business plans to the region’s top executive leaders,” said Gayle Jagel, founder and CEO of YEA!  “We are so proud of each and every student.”

    110 of the best and brightest YEA! students ages 11 to 18 from across the United States had three minutes to present their business ideas and plans to a public audience and a panel of executive judges. On March 22, 2016, a class of 13 young entrepreneurs from the DC Everest Senior High School received more than $5,000 at an Investor Panel event held in Wausau. Hughes was joined at the event by classmates Tim Cornish, Derek Dallmann, Quinten Eberhardy, Konnor Fierek, Isaac Frieders, Alexis Jaeger, Caleb Koppa, Lukas Lindner, Krupaa Patel, Logan Sparks, Ethan Stroik and Ben Weller. Videos of each of their presentations can be viewed on the Chamber’s YouTube channel.

    The competition is open to the public and will be held at noon, June 13 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street NW, Washington, DC. Tickets to the pitch competition lunch are available for $50. Call 585-272-3535 to register.

    YEA!, founded and headquartered in Rochester, New York offers programs in over 100 communities across the United States. During the course of the 30 week program YEA! students work closely with business leaders, community leaders and educators to come up with a big idea, pitch for real seed funding, and actually launch their own real business.

    DC Everest and the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce have committed to running this program until at least 2018, but its long-term success lies largely with our local business community, whose engagement is critical. Volunteers and financial supporters are currently being sought to complete this year’s activities and begin preparations to launch the 2016-17 program. Contact the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce to learn more about how you can support these young entrepreneurs and future business leaders.

    About The Young Entrepreneurs Academy:

    The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(c)(3) offering groundbreaking year-long classes that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds, and launch and run their own, fully formed companies and social movements. The project-based program empowers students to take charge of their futures.

    Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, YEA! today serves thousands of students nationwide. In 2011, the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation became a national sponsor and partner of the Academy to help celebrate the spirit of enterprise among today's youth and tomorrow's future leaders.

    YEA! bridges the business and educational communities to fulfill its mission of teaching more students how to make a job, not just take a job. YEA! is made possible by The Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the E. Philip Saunders Foundation. For more information, visit yeausa.org.


    Brian Otten, Marketing Manager
    botten@wausauchamber.com, (715) 848-5947