SU Innovation Center brings students, businesses under one roof

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The SU Innovation Center at Southern University opened roughly a month ago and is bringing students and businesses together.

Jovanie Smith is one of those students. She spends several days each week typing memos, checking emails and brainstorming fresh ideas. It's important work to sharpen the skills she'll need to be successful.

Smith works out of the center as a software development intern for Steel Point Solutions, a DC-based IT company.

"This internship came right in time for me to learn a lot more about what I want to pursue after I graduate," said Smith.

The center serves as a one-stop shop for resources and Smith one of a handful of lucky students hired to gain real-world experience she calls invaluable.

"Everyone is very influential," she added. "Everyone wants to make sure that I'm staying on track making sure that I can see a career out of this."

Steel Point Solutions is not the only business involved. The SU Innovation Center also houses the Small Business Development Center of Louisiana. Together, the two venues not only help businesses get off the ground but also foster relationships between companies and SU students.

"The student aspect of it is really important. We've done a really good job of providing those opportunities through the center for our students," said Al Harrell, CEO of the SU System Foundation.

"So our kids have a chance to take what they learn in the classroom, partner with businesses here in the center and actually take some of their skill set and be innovative and creative enough to suggest the creation of their own companies as well," Dr. Michael Stubblefield, Vice-Chancellor of Research and Strategic Initiatives, added.

The critical on-campus resource also provides opportunities for law students to work one-on-one with businesses to help them get started.

"It's all to provide what we call basic legal services to small businesses," said Chancellor for the SU Law School, Dr. John Pierre.

Pierre says the center is the first step to an even larger goal of setting students up to become entrepreneurs.

"To help them think about entrepreneurship from the time they enter college so that they can be the next generation of businesses enterprises," said Pierre.

Smith says the opportunities at the SU Innovation Center are endless and the senior computer science major says working at the center has taught her vital life lessons.

"I've learned to always put yourself out there and apply for any opportunities that you see," she added.

For more information about the SU Innovation Center, click here.

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