A Jamaican student studying in the United States recently participated in an exclusive Yale University program this summer. Finance major Romaine Knight came to Brooklyn a few years ago to pursue his education in business and entrepreneurship. Now the senior at Prairie View A & M University in Texas has even more exposure to the ins and outs of his field, after being chosen to join Yale’s Emerging Leaders entrepreneurship program — a five-day course aimed at advancing his future.
“The program is designed to enhance minority entrepreneurship and enhance the ideas of people of color, women, and other minorities groups, and increasing entry in those groups in the field,” said Knight. “The fundamental structure of the program showed us how to implement innovative ideas, how can we help our communities, create startups, and how to use feedback to enhance our leadership skills.”
He was eager to discover such an opportunity existed, when a friend of his participated in a similar program at another New England based ivy league college and recommended that he also search for one in his field of study.
“After hearing about his experience, I started looking for programs that were similar to it, and found Yale,” he said.
Throughout the duration of the courses, Knight interacted with other aspiring entrepreneurs and further explored an idea for a start-up project he was required to pitch before starting the program. He said his existing knowledge, proved to be helpful in his involvement.
“Overall, the courses weren’t that difficult and I was given a preliminary overview, so this gave me a chance to leverage my acquired skills,” said Knight. “My time there was really exciting, and not just the courses but I got to talk to a lot of other budding entrepreneurs.”
But one his favorite aspects of the program was the emphasis on progressive advocacy.
“Social justice was a big theme in the Yale program and a lot of the ideas to come out the program were designed with a lot of issues in mind, like immigration and refugees,” he said. “The highest priority for many start-up ideas were based on what would have a social impact.”
He said the experience positively shape and affect how he will look at his career in the future, and he feels that other people of color in the business and entrepreneurship field will be the answer in closing disparity gaps and address matters specific to disadvantaged groups.
“There are so many issues we are looking at from an incorrect sense, but when you think about all the creation and the ideas you can develop — that aspect definitely impacted me,” he said. “I believe the onus in terms of solving issues haven’t been solved for people of color is on us. We can take the range on current issues and implement and instill those set of values that our parents didn’t to innovate.”
Knight said his long-term objective was to enter the funding aspect in finance, where he can help others receive financial support for their ideas. He also plans to take his skills to Jamaica and help improve the country.
“When I think about entrepreneurship, I’m thinking, “How can I fund these ideas that people are trying to create?” — because I’m looking to invest and help give people the tools because I feel I can help more people that way,” he said. “I want to take the experience and help the people in my home country and help them create their own business ideas.”