Leach, Thomas Speak at Entrepreneurship Summit


Thomas Davis speaks at the Entrepreneurship Summit on April 7 (Photo by Tia Hadnott)

The Entrepreneurship Summit was held at the Givens Performing Arts Center on April 7. The summit hosted some of Robeson County’s brightest high schools including St. Paul’s High School, Red Springs High School, Purnell Swett High School, Fairmont High School, Lumberton High School, The Early College and South Robeson High School.

The summit featured a competition among the high school’s students who made their own business idea videos. The student’s videos were featured at the summit. The students were competing for cash prizes with first place winning $500. South Robeson High School came in at first place. The students also had booths set up in the main lobby of GPAC and there was a table of judges that came through and ask the students about their ideas and scored them accordingly.

Many of Pembroke’s campus Fraternities and Sororities were at the Summit with tables and some local small business vendors around the county were there as well.

Professor James Freeman directed the Summit and his entrepreneurship class was in charge of helping him find speakers. Freeman teaches the Innovation class here at Pembroke. Freeman’s office is located in the Incubator which is located just right off campus.

The Incubator was designed to help out people who want to become entrepreneurs or small business owners. Freeman worked hard to get many speakers out to the summit to encourage students that the sky is the limit.

This year’s summit hosted two NFL stars that came to speak and share positive encouragement to the audience.

Vonta Leach was the first speaker to come and talk at the summit. Leach is from Robeson County he graduated from South Robeson High School and attended Eastern Carolina University.

Before Leach got out of the NFL he was the fullback for the Baltimore Ravens. He spoke about how everyone doubted him and they thought he wasn’t good enough to become a NFL player but with lots of hard work he defied the odds and he was one of the first people in his area to go to play professional sports.

The main speaker was Thomas Davis, who is a current linebacker for the Carolina Panthers. He is a Georgia native. He mentioned coming from a very small hometown, also noting that Pembroke reminded of it very much. He touched on motivation and willpower sharing that when he committed to the University of Georgia the entire football coaching staff was fired.

Davis had to do the unimaginable. He had to come from last on the roster and become a starter with Georgia being an elite SEC football team that were very competitive. Davis later became an All-American and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers as their first round pick in the 2006 draft.

Davis spoke encouraging wisdom to the students at the summit, inspiring them to prove those who doubt them wrong and always look at what you have to offer and focus on that. He stressed the importance of education, encouraging students to pursue a college degree.

Davis also talked about not giving up and putting in your full effort all the time even when you aren’t quite where you want to be yet success wise. Davis talks about the money, fame and his career noting that his biggest accomplishment in his eyes was finishing his college education and getting his degree.

Jaz Williams, a student in James Freeman’s entrepreneurship class, said that for the students, the summit was “an opportunity to witness success from hard work and believe in the speaker’s successes as motivation for their own dreams and it was a privilege to be a part of it.”

If anyone interested in getting involved with local high schools and making an impact on the youth here, visit serve.uncp.edu and get started volunteering with one or a couple of the many volunteer programs offered.


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