Mackenzie Phillips, a native of Remsen, IA, first got involved with Iowa JPEC because a friend told her to take the Entrepreneurship and Innovation course. Phillips was impressed with the class because it was different than the structure of a typical business course. After getting to know instructors and fellow students, though hesitant at first, she decided to dive in.

“The class demanded creativity, thinking on your feet, and working as a team. The class structure, professors, and students encouraged me to pursue the certificate. The Iowa JPEC community has been incredibly supportive, everyone genuinely wants you to succeed," says Phillips.

Phillips also wants other undergraduates to know that “entrepreneurship courses teach so much more than how to start a business. The courses teach you how to maximize results using a limited amount of resources, how to turn an idea into reality, and how to solve problems on both a micro and macro level.” Phillips knows what she’s talking about – she’s taken more than half a dozen entrepreneurship courses with Iowa JPEC.

As an active student on campus, Phillips had numerous opportunities to use her Iowa JPEC-acquired skills. She says the entrepreneurial coursework and lessons have particularly come in handy while she was working on her Tippie Honors project. Phillips' project focused on the impact of short-term study abroad trips on micro-enterprises in southern Belize. Under the supervision of Dr. Bob Walker, an Iowa JPEC lecturer, Phillips gathered data, conducted surveys, and researched the effects of students working with entrepreneurs in developing nations.

In November 2016, Phillips traveled to Belize to complete the qualitative research needed for her project. She says she got the idea for the project from her interests in small business and international development. Phillips hoped that the project would help her assess the impact that previous student trips have made thus far on southern Belize, while also revealing how to improve the value of future trips for both students and residents of Belize.

Phillips says she learned some powerful lessons in her entrepreneurial classes: “Iowa JPEC has taught me the importance of encouraging and challenging every person to reach their personal and professional potential – to live the life you desire and pursue the causes you believe in.”