By Edgar Ocana, NFTE New England graduate
NFTE is more than just a program that focuses on teaching entrepreneurship, it also changes lives. My name is Edgar Ocana, freshman at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. I’m 18, from Chelsea MA, born in Los Angeles, and am the first born son and first in my family to go to college. Because of NFTE, I had an excellent entrepreneurship class in high school, a NFTE-trained teacher who helped me in multiple ways, and a program that helped me in my pursuit to a higher education.
When I took entrepreneurship my senior year of high school, I thought it was just going to be a fun and easy elective to get me by my senior year. I was interested in going into business after my junior year. I heard some good things about the class, such as a day trip to New York, and a bunch of other field trips. As the days continued, I realized the many factors in having a different mindset for business. We spent a lot of time looking for an opportunity to solve a problem, or create a change that people would be interested in investing their time and money. We did many activities, and grew throughout the year from kids who had no idea for a business, to well-dressed business young adults ready to give a business plan presentation in front of judges. I learned first-hand how to take an unfortunate event and turn it into an opportunity that can benefit me. When my business plan didn’t go through, I wasn’t mad or upset. I saw the weaknesses in my business plan, and now try to view every possible factor that can help me or hurt me.
I owe a lot to my entrepreneurship teacher, Gail Treanor. I met her during my junior year as my homeroom teacher. She talked a lot about her entrepreneurship class. So senior year, I took entrepreneurship. I also switched out of Spanish 1 (which I can fluently speak and somehat read and write) so I could be in her accounting 1 class. Both accounting and entrepreneurship settled my doubts about whether I wanted to go into business. She wrote me a letter of recommendation for college, and through NFTE’s entrepreneurship class, I was introduced to Babson College. The NFTE U classes and teacher workshops truly prepare teachers to be a great resource for students in the class.
NFTE also had a big impact on my college education. I applied to Babson, Bentley, Bryant, UMass Boston, UMass Amherst, and Newbury College. I got my letter of acceptance from Babson, and was amazed when they offered me the NFTE scholarship. It was a 4 year, all tuition paid scholarship to Babson College. My mom was in tears, dad was happy, and I was beyond shocked with the 5 digit numbers that were on my financial aid package. My entrepreneurship teacher was thrilled. I later found out they pick one NFTE student in the nation to receive this scholarship. After weeks of comparing schools and visiting Babson, I bought the Babson hoodie to make it official: I was going to be a Babson college student. Since then, NFTE has continued to support me. When I needed a job, NFTE’s New England regional director Jennifer green was able to help me by offering me a job at the New England office, which is 12 minutes away from my dorm. I wish to give back to NFTE and support it in any way. Not just because they helped me out in so many ways, but because they help countless other students year after year in high school classrooms.