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Student group helps manage Elon-led social network

With more than 2,200 members, the Entrepreneurship and Education Network creates global conversations on curriculum, research and events.

Gary Palin, executive director of the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, with sophomore Alexa Carlin

A global social network for new and veteran entrepreneurs alike is growing quickly under the management of an Elon University student group that works closely with faculty in the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

The Entrepreneurship and Education Network, created four years ago by Gary Palin before he joined the university faculty as executive director of the Doherty Center, counts more than 2,200 people from around the world as members. Nearly 1,000 students, educators and entrepreneurs have joined in the past year alone.

The forum sparks discussions on topics ranging from curriculum issues, to research issues, to professional events and activities. It includes message boards and video for registered members to access.

Palin and his wife, Lori, had managed the network for its first few years when he was a faculty member at NC State University. Shortly after moving to Elon, he identified a newly formed campus group – the Student Entrepreneurial Enterprise Development organization – as an ideal manager for his program.

“I wanted to get students more involved, and it struck me that this would be a good project for SEED to manage,” Palin said. “This isn’t just a project for Elon students. It’s being implemented around the world.”

Palin turned to sophomore Alexa Carlin, an entrepreneurship and finance double major from Boston, Mass., to administer the site. As vice president of SEED, Carlin took an immediate interest in Palin’s offer, she said.

“It’s an international forum. When you have such a diverse group of people, you’re going to have different views on things,” she said in a recent interview. “Professor Palin wants students to see there’s so much more out there, and that as a student on this campus, you can talk with people in countries like India and China.”

Carlin monitors the site for appropriate and conduct, which includes the maintenance of profile photos. Approved users are expected to upload images that clearly show their face and professional presence.

Elon professors especially are using the network in a variety of ways to foster student discussions. They post questions to the site that students are assigned to publicly answer or address.

Playing the role of network administrator gives Carlin the additional responsibility and leadership experience she sought as she deepens her understanding of entrepreneurship. “It’s opened my eyes to see that entrepreneurship truly is a worldwide culture,” she said.



Eric Townsend,
9/28/2011 2:06 PM