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NMSU entrepreneurship camp concludes with awards

The New Mexico State University and Cooperative Extension Service's Youth Entrepreneurship Summer (YES) Camp concluded July 2 with a business plan competition, a luncheon and an awards ceremony.

The YES Camp was held for high school students interested in learning about entrepreneurship. The program started May 29 and was held Monday through Thursday from 9-11:30 a.m. All of the students who participated this year are graduates of Las Cruces high schools and will be freshmen at NMSU in the fall.

During the camp, students created a business plan and researched its economic feasibility. They not only worked during classroom hours, but had out of class assignments every day. The students then presented their plans to a panel of bankers, who decided which plan was best.

Leslie Rupe, 18, and her partner Alejandro Chavez, 18, won first place with the plan for their landscape design and installation business, Divine Exteriors.

Gilbert Orosco, 18, received second place for his plan for Chord A, a music shop catering to band students.

Third place went to Desiree Holguin, 18, for her clothing boutique, Happily Ever After.
Marcos Guzman, 18, received honorable mention for his business, A Helping Hand, along with classmates Amanda O'Brien, 17, and Nicole Casillas, 17, for their business Royal Fitness.

"Taking this course, I have realized that starting a business is a process. It's definitely harder to do than I thought," Guzman said.

As for actually starting a business and presenting the idea before a bank's loan officers, Rupe thinks it's something that could happen after finishing school.

"After getting my degree from NMSU, I would like to go to a design school in Chicago, so then I can open my own interior design studio. My business would start out as just interior design, but maybe it could expand into something like the business Alejandro and I presented today," she said.

The first place winners received $150 each, second place was given $75 each, third place received $50 each and honorable mentions received $35 each. The money was put directly into each student's university account, to be used toward expenses such as books and tuition.

"The course was not just about business plans. Students also learned about the economy, and gained leadership and public speaking skills," said Michael Patrick, YES Camp instructor and community resource and economic development specialist for the Cooperative Extension Service.