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Driving Entrepreneurial Success at WSSU

Last Updated on April 23, 2024

Patience Harris smiling in the foreground, the staff of Village Juice Kitchen at WSSU posing together in their workplace, and the ELETE Experience logo in red and white.
Patience Harris, an exemplar of HBCU student success through The ELETE Experience, alongside the dedicated staff of Village Juice Kitchen at WSSU and the emblematic ELETE Experience logo.

Welcome to the Future of Education and Empowerment

Hey there, future change-makers! Step into the world of The ELETE Experience, where education meets innovation in a transformative mash-up designed just for HBCU students like you. The ELETE Experience stands for Exponential Learning and Entrepreneurial Training Experience. It’s not just about textbooks and tests here; it’s about building a brighter, healthier, and wealthier future for every student. Discover how Patience Harris, a go-getting senior from Winston-Salem State University, is turning her dual passions for marketing and culinary arts into career gold.

The ELETE Experience: From Vision to Victory

Nate Atkinson, co-founder of The ELETE Experience, in a corporate headshot.

Meet Nathan Atkinson, a former attorney turned food entrepreneur, who’s putting his heart into leveling the playing field for HBCU students through The ELETE Experience. “I was an attorney for about 20 years before entering the restaurant business and starting Village Juice & Kitchen with my wife. I also engage in addressing food insecurity through various non-profits,” Nathan shares. His diverse background led Nathan to identify and address the educational needs at HBCUs, focusing on practical business skills and entrepreneurship.

Patience Harris embodies the spirit of what Nathan envisioned. As a Business Administration major with a sharp focus on Marketing, Patience was already a campus leader, having clinched the top spot at the 2023 RamPitch Competition. When she heard about ELETE, she saw it as the perfect platform to fuse her culinary passion with her marketing skills. “The program presented me with an opportunity to see first hand the intricacies to operating a successful business in the food industry.” says Patience, who’s making big waves in campus dining with her fresh ideas.

Eating Right, Leading Strong: The New Campus Cuisine

What’s on your plate matters, and at ELETE, it’s about more than just filling bellies. Nathan introduced plant-based, heart-healthy options that have students rethinking campus dining. “Initially, there’s some hesitancy towards plant-based diets due to unfamiliarity. However, once students try these options, they generally respond positively,” Nathan points out.

Students ordering at Village Juice & Kitchen, part of The ELETE Experience at Winston-Salem State University.

Patience adds her flavor to the mix, using her marketing mojo to make healthy eating cool and influence her peers. “Working in restaurant marketing has given me the opportunity to personally monitor and evaluate consumer behavior… I’m learning what drives customers to choose one restaurant over another,” she beams.

Mentors, Movers, and Shakers: Building Bridges to Success

For Patience, mentorship within The ELETE Experience has been a game-changer. “The mentorship has had a great impact on my perspective, skills, and overall success in both my personal and professional life… assisting me in navigating setbacks, overcoming hurdles, & remaining motivated,” she reflects. Her mentors have turned tough times into tremendous triumphs, proving that with the right support, sky’s the limit.

Corporate Connections: Partnering with Aramark

Discussing the crucial role of partnerships, Nathan highlights the collaboration with Aramark, which enhances the program’s reach and effectiveness. “Aramark, as a dining partner on campuses, helps in integrating our restaurant concepts smoothly. They manage these locations, which helps in maintaining quality and operational standards,” he states. This partnership not only supports the logistical aspects of providing healthier dining options but also ensures the sustainability of these initiatives across campuses.

Breaking the Mold: Entrepreneurship and Empowerment

ELETE isn’t just preparing students for the job market; it’s priming them to redefine it. Nathan explains, “The ELETE Experience aims to mitigate the funding disparities on HBCU campuses by providing financial resources that facilitate access to programs and healthy food options. The program is structured to foster entrepreneurship, which is crucial for closing the generational wealth gap.” This mission is at the heart of ELETE, turning educational experiences into entrepreneurial excellence.

Looking Ahead: Dream Big, Act Bigger

As ELETE gears up for expansion, Nathan shares his vision and a piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “We aim to expand the program by engaging more corporate partners, fundraising, and building awareness across HBCUs. This expansion will help in scaling the program to other campuses and enhancing its impact.” He adds, “For young entrepreneurs at HBCUs, my key advice is to not let fear prevent you from pursuing potentially life-changing opportunities. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort if you’re passionate about it.”

Join the revolution. Be the change. The ELETE Experience is here to turn your ambition into action. Are you ready to be part of this transformative journey? Let’s make history together, one campus at a time.

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