First-Year Students Learn From Women of Color Entrepreneurs

December 18, 2017

Professor Areen Shahbari and 1st year students

Professor Areen Shahbari’s PLAN course encourages students to passionately pursue entrepreneurship as a career goal

Simmons School of Business Professor Areen Shahbari, '11SM and her first-year students had the opportunity to meet a woman of color entrepreneur when the class took a class field trip. The class met Yessy Feliz, owner of Tails, Inc.: a doggie daycare, pet food supply store, and boarding facility in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. This visit gave students the opportunity to meet and interview the owner, who shared with the students her entrepreneurial journey turning passion for animals into a business, and how rewarding it has been.

We asked Devynn Ledgard '21, Political Science major, about her experiences with the course and the field trip to Tails, Inc.

What do you like best about the Boston's Women of Color course? 

I enjoy the field trips around Boston the most because, the field trips force us to explore new parts of the city. For example, my group members and I took a field trip to the North End. While, in the North End we discovered new areas that I never knew existed. I love visiting the different neighborhoods because they have the ability to transport you to what feels like a completely different country.

Would you recommend this course to others? Why? 

I would recommend this course to others because I learned about the systematic barriers obstructing not just women of color, but all women from rising in the business world. Now knowing what has limited the success of women in the workforce, I will not allow these obstacles to limit my personal success.
What is the most interesting thing that you've learned in the Boston's Women of Color Entrepreneurs course? The most interesting thing I have learned is the utmost importance of networking. Simply put, those who take advantage of opportunities to network will likely be more successful in any field they choose, not just entrepreneurship.

Have there been any unexpected challenges? 

I think just seeing the statistics of the lack of women in entrepreneurship was challenging to grasp at first. On the Tails, Inc. field trip: Devynn added Yessy inspired her “because she proved that doing what you love is more important than going after the money. Yessy showed me the importance of keeping an open mind to different career paths”.

Any final thoughts?

I think this course will help me achieve my goals by emphasizing the importance of networking. Every successful entrepreneur we interviewed or read an article about talked about networking and the importance of making connections with people. Going to events around Boston helped me work on my networking skills by making me practice having meaningful conversations with strangers.

Professor Shahbari explained how this this course encourages students to become part of the story-making process to ensure that the stories of women of color entrepreneurs are being told. She emphasizes to students, “Your age doesn’t matter, even if you are very young, you can be a person who tells the story of someone, and change the status quo.”

Thanks to 1st year student Katherine Winn for contributing to this story.