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Top-Ranked Tech CEO and Diverse Panel of Women Entrepreneurs Encourage Students and Aspiring Business Owners

Gender and ethnicity do not have to be barriers to success, a diverse group of women entrepreneurs told more than 150 students and aspiring business owners in the City of Newark. The panel, titled “Women Entrepreneurs: Driving Success Through Diversity,” was sponsored by Berkeley College as part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week. Participants discussed the uneven playing field for women in business. They emphasized the need to overcome fear and obstacles while acknowledging their often unrecognized contributions.

Keynote speaker Monica C. Smith told the audience that there is no perfect roadmap to success. Her company, Marketsmith, Inc., was recognized by Inc. Magazine as the No. 1 Woman-Led Company the New York metropolitan area.

“It doesn’t matter anymore if you’re a man or a woman. It doesn’t matter your ethnicity. It doesn’t matter your educational status. It doesn’t matter. The ticket is for everyone, so get on board,” said Ms. Smith, CEO and Founder of Marketsmith, Inc.

The panel of 10 female African American and Latina entrepreneurs, whose industries ranged from entertainment to accounting to transportation, spoke about what women bring to the table in nontraditional fields, and told stories of their own obstacles to success.

“If you have been called a rebel, a revolutionary, different, a nonconformist, then you’re on the right track,” said Maria Teresa Montilla, PhD, Founder and President of The Institute for Latino Studies, Research and Development, Inc., and President of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey.

She encouraged women in the audience to remember that the female voice resonates with half of the world’s population.

Berkeley College President Michael J. Smith encouraged students in the audience to learn from the panelists’ poise and determination.

“If they did it, there is no reason you can’t do it yourselves,” he said. “The difference between failure and success is a small amount of effort,” said President Smith.

Angela Harrington, Berkeley College Assistant Vice President, Communications and External Relations, said Berkeley College hosted the panel to bring the real world of business to Berkeley College students and aspiring entrepreneurs, and to connect them with women whose stories of building successful enterprises will encourage them to realize their full potential and advance their business aspirations.

“There are nearly 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States today. They make 1.6 trillion dollars in revenue a year,” she said. “Yet getting there is tough – women start their businesses with six times less capital than men. The starting point is just as important as the end point.”

Tammy Boxton, a Berkeley College Business Management – Entrepreneurship student and small business owner, thanked the panelists and said their insights and wisdom were inspiring.

“They are women of different backgrounds and cultures. Things are stacked against them. But they’ve overcome,” she said. “They talked about staying flexible. Staying focused. Staying positive. Believing in yourself, because when you believe in yourself, you’re halfway there.”

A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls approximately 8,000 students – including more than 900 international students – in its Baccalaureate and Associate degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies, the School of Liberal Arts, and the School of Graduate Studies, which offers a Master of Business Administration degree in Management.

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