An Interview with Jeanette Balleza Collins

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Written by Ashayla Burnett, 11th grader at eStem Public Charter School

As our last project in the Noble Impact class before going on Spring Break, we were to conduct interviews centered around why it is important for high school students to engage and become educated in entrepreneurship in relation to the first ever High School Startup Weekend coming up in April.

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Ms. Jeannette Balleza Collins over the phone. I had already met her back in October, participating with four other Noble Impact classmates in the Startup Weekend Northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville. Now, she is a mentor for the High School Startup Weekend, so I thought she would be the ideal person to interview.

Ms. Collins is the ARK Challenge Director at Winrock International, which is a startup accelerator. She is also founder of Scribe Marketing, an Archivist of Dead Fred and has been honored as one of the “40 Under 40” in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. To be as renowned in the startup community as she is, it was great to get her perspective about entrepreneurial education and the impact on youth.

When asked how important entrepreneurship is in youth learning, Ms. Collins said, “The entrepreneur to entrepreneur relationship is paramount in youth learning. It provides fundamental skills a person needs in life, and is a good tool to learn how to manage your time.”

As I heard this, I could really relate as I am still learning time management and it made me think of everything I’ve learned in the Noble Impact class.

I also had the chance to ask her how the High School Startup Weekend could be beneficial to students. In her opinion, it is another tool to have for students to voice their ideas and opinions. She said, “…the format itself [High School Startup Weekend] provides a platform for pitching ideas, and meeting like-minded people to share the experience.”

Pertaining to high school students again, I asked why they should follow what they are passionate about. Ms. Collins replied, “If you think about the path people take in finding a career [and learning entrepreneurship], it will help them remain engaged in what they want to pursue instead of being stuck in a job they don’t want to do.”

When asked what entrepreneurship was to her personally she replied, “To me, entrepreneurship is a life philosophy. When I was in high school, people would tell me what options were available to me…but when I learned entrepreneurship, it was like looking through a different lens. It was helpful in considering a career path, and how to approach life.”

From experience and being in high school, I know how it feels to be overwhelmed by everyone’s perception of what they think you should do with your life or what decisions you should make. Therefore, I completely agree with everything Ms. Collins said; thinking for yourself is imperative.

Ms. Collins is a successful entrepreneur, so I decided to ask what skills she thinks one must possess in order to be one. She said that you should be a good listener, unafraid to take risks, be humble, okay with putting yourself out there and make mistakes. Last, you must possess a great amount of optimism.

Thanks to Ms. Collins for taking the time to talk with me.