Tiffany Chen ’18 has been named one of 11 Changemaker Fellows in the state of Rhode Island, becoming Brown’s representative in the statewide government-funded initiative.
The Changemaker Fellowship, coordinated by Social Enterprise Greenhouse, connects students from Rhode Island’s 11 universities in an attempt to heighten awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities and integrate and expand existing university programs, according to SEG’s website.
Chen will receive a $1,500 stipend and work alongside the other 10 fellows. “Currently our task is to map out the entrepreneurial ecosystem across all of the 11 college campuses in Rhode Island,” Chen said. She defined the entrepreneurial ecosystem as the web of resources and programs that are necessary for business development and innovation on college campuses.
At its biweekly meetings, the cohort will dedicate time to “figuring out ways to encourage entrepreneurship across different campuses,” Chen said.
Chen will primarily focus on developing the connections between Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design. While some groups at both universities are closely connected, most students remain unaware of the possible connections between the two schools, Chen said.
Chen plans to work with Aimee Kim, the Changemaker Fellow at RISD, to draw Brown students toward RISD and vice versa. “We plan on helping to promote entrepreneurial events across the different campuses,” Chen said.
A dual concentrator in economics and computer science, Chen hopes to use her design skills to assist in mapping the cohort’s findings.
“The map is primarily going to be used for startups who are in Rhode Island,” Chen said, adding that she hopes it will connect students to resources. She also hopes the map will be used by businesses entering Rhode Island and entrepreneurs looking for talent.
“The government of Rhode Island wants to encourage entrepreneurship amongst students in the hopes that eventually when they go on to create their own businesses, they’ll stay in Rhode Island,” Chen said. When student entrepreneurs develop businesses in the state, entrepreneurial opportunities become more attractive and encourage an influx of startups, she added.
The government’s initiative has already seen some success. Teri Minogue ’18, Brown’s Changemaker Fellow for the 2015-2016 academic year, said the fellowship has given her a new understanding of entrepreneurship in Providence. “There’s so much talent at Brown that could benefit from getting contacts at all these different schools,” Minogue said. “It has made me give thought to even staying in Providence because if you really take a look at it, we have a lot of creative energy here.”
Though unsure of what she will do post-graduation, Chen applied for the fellowship because she is interested in entrepreneurship and believes it is a powerful tool for Brown students given their unique outlook on social entrepreneurship and the university’s emphasis on social impact. “I want to have some sort of social impact that will directly affect people in a positive manner,” she said.