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Today@Sam Article

New Business Major Works To Develop Students' 'Entrepreneurial Spirit'

July 5, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
Story By: Kim Kyle Morgan

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Travis Hanus
Getting in touch with his "entrepreneurial spirit" in his early teens led Travis Hanus to Huntsville, where he built a house and rented out the rooms as he studied general business and entrepreneurship at SHSU. Following graduation, Hanus hopes to continue in that line of business by opening a real estate business and investing in duplexes. —Submitted photo

Sitting in class, staring at the whiteboard, Patrick Magliaro tried to remind himself why he was there in the first place. Engineering, he reasoned, is a great starting job with a great starting salary.

"I got caught up in all of that," Magliaro said, "but then I realized this is not what I want to do."

Magliaro is interested in engineering; it's just that he's more interested in the nuts and bolts of the business behind it. That's why he left Texas Tech and headed to Sam Houston State University, where entrepreneurship is the College of Business Administration's newest major.

"I've always had more of a business mentality, that entrepreneurial spirit," Magliaro said. "I want to thoroughly understand how a business runs."

In August, Magliaro will be one of the first SHSU students to graduate with an entrepreneurship major.

"It's up and coming, to the point where in five to 10 years, students will come here for an entrepreneurship major instead of criminal justice," Magliaro said.

Robert "Chip" Matthews, assistant professor of business administration, has been working for months to add an entrepreneurship major to the entrepreneurship minor.

The University of Houston and Baylor University have top-rated entrepreneurship programs, Matthews said, but there's room for another because Texas has a strong track record of entrepreneurship.

"I find it interesting that four of the top 15 metro areas for minority entrepreneurs are in Texas," Matthews said. "That's something I'd love to make a huge focus here at SHSU. Texas is just an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs; therefore, programs are rising to fill that need."

It's not only business-based students seeking an entrepreneurial education.

"Interestingly enough, we get some non-business majors," Matthews said. "We have people who are theater majors or photography majors who want to open their own theaters or galleries. With the economy the way it is, more people feel they have to start their own business to be successful. And another thing is that we get a lot of students whose parents own their own businesses, and students from small towns where half the population is entrepreneurs. They're already very comfortable with it."

Chip Matthews QuoteMatthew Johnson, 23, is one of those guys.

"My dad raised me as an entrepreneur," said Johnson, who recently graduated with a business major and entrepreneurship minor. "He's owned a Subway franchise, duplexes, trailer parks…I watched him build these things up."

Why go to school then? Because there's a difference between small-business operators and entrepreneurs, Matthews said.

"An entrepreneur isn't somebody who just wants to start a business; he or she wants to grow it and really build something lasting," Matthews said. "It goes beyond just opening a store. And—this is something I personally feel strongly about—if the goal is to build something that will last and grow, it's incredibly important to conduct yourself with the highest of ethical standards. If you don't, those things have a way of coming back and causing problems later."

Johnson said Matthews taught him that a good business plan must include a dose of reality.

"Professor Matthews said you either have to have numbers, or you have to have people who believe in your vision so you can get the numbers," Johnson said. "I'm the kind of guy who has a new idea every day, so I've had my share of hearing that I'm crazy or it won't work, but that's OK. If just one takes, you're set for life."

Johnson already has one business underway. As a former SHSU track and field athlete, and a youth pastor, Johnson combined his passions to launch Competitive Spirit, a health and wellness venture that includes track and field coaching, speed and agility camps, and fitness and nutrition counseling.

"I believe this is going to be my forever business," Johnson said. "But just one of them."

Travis Hanus has tried his hand at a few things. At 15, he ran a successful lawn care business with a buddy. At 19, upon arrival at SHSU, he built a house in Huntsville where he lived and rented out rooms to students.

"It was a risk, but that's part of entrepreneurship—takings risks and recognizing opportunities," said Hanus, who is now an independent contractor at Inspire Realty.

Hanus will graduate in August with a major in general business administration and a minor in entrepreneurship. He said he would have gone for an entrepreneurship major had it existed in time for him to make the switch, but he's extremely happy to at least have the minor.

"I have learned a ton," Hanus said. "It's what you make of it. What you choose to take away from it can change your life."

Hanus plans to launch his own real estate business by investing in duplexes and is also aiming for licensure as an independent insurance agent.

"I'm young, but I would consider myself an entrepreneurial spirit," Hanus said. "Every day, I want something more."



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