Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending AEI’s Spring 2017 Weekend Honors Program on Entrepreneurship & Human Flourishing in Austin, Texas. Our cohort consisted of over twenty Christian students from colleges and universities all across the nation; each of us hoping to challenge ourselves, grow deeper in our faith, and learn how to better use business to contribute to God’s plan for human flourishing.
Brian Brenberg, Chair of the Program in Business and Finance at King’s College, kicked off the weekend with an interactive problem-solving exercise pushing us to challenge our assumptions, work together, and embrace creativity to reach our goal. Later that day, we analyzed a Harvard Business School case study examining Rent the Runway, a high fashion start-up hoping to revolutionize the way society interacts with designer brands. Eventually, our conversation turned to whether this entrepreneurial venture successfully fosters human flourishing, and we also discussed ways in which this company could improve its business model. We ended our first day with a dinner discussion led by Oye Waddell, Executive Director of Hustle PHX, who encouraged us as Christians to embrace the private sector as a tool to share God’s love and engage with our communities to infuse lasting social change.
The next day, Haley Robison, CEO of outdoor gear company Kammok, led two practicums that taught us to tackle complex problems through design thinking. In one activity, we examined our job aspirations on paper, then split into groups and listened as our fellow participants discussed the themes in our skills and interests and what this revealed about our personalities. I was pleasantly surprised to find many of my descriptive traits aligned with my Strength Finders results. During the afternoon, Robison graciously hosted us for a site visit at Kammok’s headquarters to observe the operation and details behind the scenes. Afterward we were gifted with high-performance Kammok Roo hammocks!
Finally, in our closing dinner discussion, L. Gregory Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost of Baylor University, emphasized how as Christians we are called to co-create with God to further his kingdom. While we look forward to Jesus’ ultimate restoration of the world, Provost Jones explained, we have a duty to participate in redemptive work within our current contexts.
This weekend not only challenged and equipped us academically, it also provided an invaluable experience to foster new friendships and helped us explore (and sharpen) our own personal beliefs. Looking back at my time in Austin, I will remember the wise words of our impressive speakers and the many formative conversations I had with other students throughout the weekend. I am honored to have been a part of this program, and I am extremely grateful for the valuable and meaningful relationships I made along the way.