Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

New SMC degree harnesses entrepreneurial spirit

02/06/2019 - 8am

On Feb. 4, Southwestern Michigan College’s Board of Trustees heard two business-oriented presentations — a new Associate in Arts in Entrepreneurship degree for Fall 2019 and paid Crowe accounting internships introduced on the Dowagiac campus.

“These are two very exciting sets of opportunities for SMC students,” President Dr. David Mathews said.

SMC’s new Entrepreneurship AA recognizes Generation Z’s idealistic passion. Gen Z not only grew up immersed in technology, these young adults born since 1995 desire more independent work environments, with surveys showing 42 percent want to start their own businesses.

“They value quality education and really want to do something they care about,” said Dr. Stacy Young, dean of the SMC Schools of Business and Advanced Technology. “They understand the need to earn a living because they saw their parents struggle during the 2008 recession. They will be a very influential generation; it has been suggested that they might challenge our two-party political system because they care so much about social issues. I’m very excited to see what this generation does. I feel like they’re going to change the world.”

SMC previously created a 20-credit small business management certificate for students who, for example, wanted to use their automotive skills to open a repair shop.

“You can be the best mechanic in the world,” Young said, “but if you don’t have business skills to manage your shop, you will fail. Now we have the next level of an AA transfer degree for all fields of interest. You’re still getting math, speech, English, sciences and social sciences, plus core business classes we think every entrepreneur should have.” 

The 64-credit program also “dovetails into the Ferris State University bachelor’s degree in accounting which can be earned on our campus,” Mathews said.

Learn more about the Entrepreneurship AA here or contact faculty members Leon Letter (269-782-1215 or lletter@swmich.edu) or James Benak (269-782-1221 or jbenak@swmich.edu).

Regarding the new internship opportunities, Young said that “Crowe is a large accounting firm with offices in South Bend and all over the country. They partnered with us to offer eight internships for our accounting students this semester. We set up a room in the Kairis Building with badge access for students and their on-site manager so they can come and go between classes, allowing them to have this phenomenal experience right on our campus. On Saturdays, students typically go down to the Crowe office in South Bend to collaborate with the professionals there. Only Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, Florida A&M University, Andrews University and SMC have these partnerships.”