Generation Z, born starting in 1996, is shaping up to become one of the most entrepreneurial generations in history. According a recent Gallup poll, 77 percent want to be their own boss one day. But for this generation, it’s not just about the money. They want to use their professional lives to make the world a better place. Furthermore, with the rise of social ventures, these ambitious future entrepreneurs are leveraging their skills to fix society’s greatest challenges while building profitable companies. In Fall 2018, Lynn University and Watson Institute launched an academic collaboration and welcomed the first class of social entrepreneurs to “major in their mission.”

Scholars learn a new way of uncovering systemic challenges and marry solutions with intentional outcomes.

Andrew Lippi, Watson Institute

Students in the program can earn their Bachelor of Science in social entrepreneurship while learning from top entrepreneurs and practitioners as they explore their ventures, passions and personal objectives.

“The world is struggling with poverty, climate change, and more, and we need the entrepreneurial community to help us create sustainable change—that’s why we’re training entrepreneurs with a mission to do good,” said Andrew Lippi, Watson Institute at Lynn University executive director.

Watson Scholars join a conference call
Watson Scholars gather in the new Christine E. Lynn University Center.

Meet Lynn’s Watson Scholars

The inaugural class is made up of 13 students from around the world, each with a unique mission:

  • Maria-Isabell Abrahamsson: Sweden, engage high school students in the classroom
  • Wainright Acquoi: Liberia, teach students entrepreneurial skills
  • Brima Bangura: Sierra Leone, clean energy
  • Dwayne Griffith: Sint Maarten, youth empowerment
  • Reagan Fox: United States, engage American youth in politics
  • Nathan Jaffe: United States, affordable healthcare in rural communities
  • Ja’dan Johnson: Jamaica, computer science education in the Caribbean
  • Isaac King: United States, anti-bullying awareness
  • Anahit Mkrtchyan: Armenia, financial inclusion for Armenian women
  • Bryan Nakambonde: Namibia, engage African youth in politics
  • Samuel Nvota: Slovakia, help students consult companies on social impact
  • James Okina: Nigeria, engage street children in Nigeria
  • Regina Zhyldyzbekova: Kyrgyzstan, improve national curriculum in Kygryzstan

Watson Scholars go through the program as a close-knit group, sharing a residence hall, classes and mealtimes. They can be defined as more of a family than classmates. In the classroom, the camaraderie supports their assignments to step out of their comfort zone. They use resources on campus to test ideas and assumptions.

You never know what to expect in class. One day you’re rapid prototyping a product, and the next you’re facing your fears of humiliation by laughing at the sky.

Ja’dan Johnson, Watson Scholar

A flagship of the program is weekly master courses, in which scholars learn from trailblazers such as: Jerry White, a leader of the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines; Erin Schrode, the youngest person to run for U.S. Congress; and Jeff Hoffman, cofounder of the multibillion dollar tech company Priceline.com.

“Scholars are consistently surrounded by expertise, whether through our mentorship network or the team here on campus,” said Lippi. “Our ultimate goal is to create a space where our scholars can think differently and unlock ideas and strategies for addressing complex social problems in a new way.”