FLORENCE – Francis Marion University’s Manager of the Kelley Small Business Institute in the Center for Entrepreneurship Brianna Zhang is the recipient of the 2012 Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education. The award recognizes educators for their innovative efforts to promote the function and benefits of America’s private enterprise system.
"President (Fred) Carter and I are very pleased that Brianna Zhang has earned the 2012 Leavey Award,” said FMU Provost Richard Chapman. “She does an excellent job as the manager of the Kelley Small Business Institute and is a superb instructor of the principles of entrepreneurship. We congratulate her on this achievement."
Zhang was selected for a program she developed in Marion County last year to teach entrepreneurial skills to unemployed adults. The 14 participants met three days a week for four weeks and each developed a micro-business. Many of the 11 who graduated from the program have now started their own business. The program partnered with YEScarolina in Charleston and was sponsored by Waste Management.
“The Marion County Entrepreneurship program was an outstanding success. Many of the participants noted the classes as a great learning experience and, even, life changing,” Zhang said. “I truly believe in the power of entrepreneurship education and have seen the transformation that happens when the opportunity to enter into entrepreneurship is no longer a dream.”
Zhang attended the 35th Annual Leavey Awards Summit held this month along with the other 11 award winners. FMU was one of the two universities recognized. There were approximately 80 nominations for the award this year.
“It is truly an honor to receive the recognition from the Freedoms Foundation,” Zhang said. “The Leavey Award validates the mission of the Center for Entrepreneurship and showcases the passion we have to develop entrepreneurship in our region.”
Established in 1977 by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, the Leavey Award honors outstanding elementary, junior high, high school, and college teachers who inspire students to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the free enterprise system. For 35 years, the Leavey Foundation has recognized nearly 600 teachers and awarded more than $3.5 million to those teachers.